Three months after winning an award of $500 million in its lawsuit against Oculus VR, id Software parent company ZeniMax Media is setting its sights on another target: Samsung, and its Oculus-powered Gear VR headset.
This could have a significant effect on the mobile VR market if ZeniMax gets its way; Samsung has shipped over 5 million Gear VR headsets worldwide since debuting the platform in late 2015, and (according to a court filing helpfully published by Polygon) now ZeniMax wants a piece of the proceeds.
The lengthy filing makes for interesting reading, but what you basically need to know is that ZeniMax is alleging Samsung is profiting unfairly from sales of hardware based on Oculus tech, which ZeniMax says was unjustly acquired due to collaboration between folks like Oculus CTO John Carmack (pictured, wearing an early Gear VR unit) and departed Oculus founder Palmer Luckey when Carmack was still at id.
"Through this action, ZeniMax seeks damages and injunctive relief that will fairly and fully compensate it for Samsung’s infringement and misappropriation of ZeniMax intellectual property, its unfair competition, its unjust enrichment, and for Samsung’s continued interference with the contractual obligations that Oculus, Luckey, and Carmack owe ZeniMax," reads one excerpt of ZeniMax's legal filing. "Without this relief, Samsung will continue to profit unjustly at ZeniMax’s expense."
This is very much akin to ZeniMax's original complaint against Oculus, which alleged (among other things) that the company and some of its key staffers saw significant material gains thanks to “trade secrets, copyrighted computer code, and technical know-how” illegitimately obtained from ZeniMax.
Of course, after a significant court battle the jury found Oculus not guilty of stealing trade secrets, though it did find the defendants guilty of copyright infringement, NDA violation and false designation of origin. Multiple outlets reported on the trial, and ZeniMax now says Samsung should reasonably have noticed and taken steps to stop profiting from Gear VR since it is allegedly "based upon ZeniMax's intellectual property."
However, unlike with Oculus, ZeniMax has not (yet) tried to halt sales of Gear VR headsets via legal action, something it sought to do for sales of Oculus headsets shortly after winning its lawsuit against the company. Oculus, for its part, last month filed a motion to request a new trial against ZeniMax.