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Oculus fires back at Zenimax in virtual reality dispute

Oculus fires back at Zenimax in virtual reality dispute

May 5, 2014 | By Kris Graft

The battle over virtual reality technology between two game industry heavyweights is just getting started.

A representative for Oculus sent along a longer statement Monday morning, refuting Zenimax’s recent claims that Oculus illicitly acquired proprietary technology when it hired game programming luminary John Carmack as its chief technology officer.

Zenimax is the parent company to Bethesda Softworks, developer and publisher of the popular Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises. Oculus is the hot VR startup that was acquired by Facbook for $2 billion earlier this year.

Zenimax believes it deserves a piece of the VR pie. Word came out last week that Zenimax lawyers contacted Oculus and Facebook’s lawyers, saying that Carmack’s work with VR happened while he was still an employee of Zenimax, allegedly making that work property of Zenimax.

"We are disappointed but not surprised by Zenimax’s actions and we will prove that all of its claims are false,” the Oculus rep stated Monday. He went on to address specific claims made by Zenimax’s lawyers:

There is not a line of Zenimax code or any of its technology in any Oculus products.

John Carmack did not take any intellectual property from Zenimax.

Zenimax has misstated the purposes and language of the Zenimax non-disclosure agreement that Palmer Luckey signed.

A key reason that John permanently left Zenimax in August of 2013 was that Zenimax prevented John from working on VR, and stopped investing in VR games across the company.

Zenimax canceled VR support for Doom 3 BFG when Oculus refused Zenimax’s demands for a non-dilutable equity stake in Oculus.

Zenimax did not pursue claims against Oculus for IP or technology, Zenimax has never contributed any IP or technology to Oculus, and only after the Facebook deal was announced has Zenimax now made these claims through its lawyers.

Despite the fact that the full source code for the Oculus SDK is available online (, Zenimax has never identified any ‘stolen’ code or technology.

Zenimax is seeking compensation, though there's no official word yet on whether court proceedings will ensue.

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