id Software parent company ZeniMax Media has sent a "formal notice of its legal rights" to Oculus VR and Facebook over intellectual property worked on by chief technology officer John Carmack while he was still at id that ZeniMax claims contributed to the rise of the Oculus Rift. It is seeking compensation, reports The Wall Street Journal, and sources say it has been since August 2012.
In a statement, ZeniMax wrote: "The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax. Well before the Facebook transaction was announced, [Oculus founder Palmer Luckey] acknowledged in writing ZeniMax's legal ownership of this intellectual property. It was further agreed that Mr. Luckey would not disclose this technology to third persons without approval. Oculus has used and exploited ZeniMax's technology and intellectual property without authorization, compensation or credit to ZeniMax. ZeniMax and Oculus previously attempted to reach an agreement whereby ZeniMax would be compensated for its intellectual property through equity ownership in Oculus but were unable to reach a satisfactory resolution. ZeniMax believes it is necessary to address these matters now and will take the necessary action to protect its interests."
"It's unfortunate, but when there's this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims," said an Oculus representative. "We intend to vigorously defend Oculus and its investors to the fullest extent."
On Twitter, Carmack wrote: "No work I have ever done has been patented. ZeniMax owns the code that I wrote, but they don't own VR." He later followed that up, saying, "Oculus uses zero lines of code that I wrote while under contract to ZeniMax."
Oculus, Facebook Face Challenge to Rights Over 'Rift' [The Wall Street Journal]