Oculus VR Sued by ZeniMax for Misappropriated Trade Secrets
ZeniMax has kickstarted (no pun intended) one of the biggest legal confrontations in gaming history by suing Oculus VR.
ZeniMax Media has filed a lawsuit against Oculus VR on the terms that the company and its founder, Palmer Luckey, misappropriated trade secrets, Polygon reports. ZeniMax claims that Oculus has stolen ZeniMax’s copyrighted code, trade secrets and “technical know-how” relating to virtual reality technology. ZeniMax has decided to follow through with a lawsuit because “efforts by ZeniMax to resolve this matter amicably have been unsuccessful.”
This is in reference to comments made by Oculus VR on May 5 that were in response to ZeniMax’s claims that John Carmack stole its pertinent, copyrighted, intellectual property. Carmack is the revolutionary game programmer who is known for his work on the original Doom and Wolftenstein 3D. He allegedly left ZeniMax Media upon finding out that the company would not be supporting the Oculus Rift headset.
ZeniMax representatives claim the company has been investing “tens of millions of dollars” into the virtual reality-based R&D. Carmack allegedly helped conduct some of this research and brought the information with him upon befriending Palmer Luckey and joining Oculus VR after his departure from ZeniMax. The lawsuit claims that Luckey formed his company and used the ZeniMax hardware and software that he saw at E3 combined with Carmack’s information in order to make the development kits for the Oculus Rift. As a part of Oculus VR’s Kickstarter campaign for the Oculus Rift, Luckey used ZeniMax’s virtual reality footage depicting Doom 3: BFG edition as a part of its own promotional video.
Earlier this month, John Carmack made the following Tweet about ZeniMax’s claims that he stole pertinent coding and industrial know-how and brought it over to Oculus VR:
No work I have ever done has been patented. Zenimax owns the code that I wrote, but they don't own VR.
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) May 1, 2014
- Common law misappropriation of trade secrets, which encompasses both the use of those secrets and Oculus’ hiring of ZeniMax employees
- Copyright infringement against all defendants, pertaining to Oculus VR’s use of Doom 3: BFG Edition without permission
- Breach of contract against all defendants, encompassing Luckey’s use and disclosure of proprietary information under a nondisclosure agreement (NDA)
- Unfair competition against Oculus, because Oculus VR breached the terms of the NDA, took ZeniMax’s intellectually property and used it for its own gain without obtaining a license to use the technology or information, thereby depriving ZeniMax of the opportunity to realize gains from its technology
- Unjust enrichment against all defendants, who “refuse to compensate ZeniMax” for its contributions and also gained access to confidential information by hiring ZeniMax employees
- Trademark infringement, for Oculus VR’s use of trademarked materials, including Doom, Rage and Skyrim
- False designation against all defendants, because Oculus VR’s products are “likely” to imply the mistaken belief that they come from or are authorized by ZeniMax