ZeniMax Media, the publisher behind the popular Elder Scrolls franchise, is claiming rights to tech that is inside the Oculus Rift VR headset according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
Facebook recently purchased Oculus Rift for $2 billion.
The claim centers around former ZeniMax employee John Carmack. ZeniMax says Carmack took ZeniMax tech with him to Oculus.
The dispute centers around Carmack and his early dealings with Oculus Rift founder, Palmer Luckey. While still at ZeniMax, Carmack allegedly worked on a prototype VR headset he received from Luckey. This headset was later demonstrated at ZeniMax’s convention booth in Los Angeles in 2012.
ZeniMax believes the technology following Carmack’s work on the headset is theirs.
Here’s a part of ZeniMax’s statement.
“The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax,” ZeniMax’s statement reads. “Well before the Facebook transaction was announced, Mr. 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.”
As expected, Oculus dismissed ZeniMax’s claim. “It’s unfortunate, but when there’s this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims. We intend to vigorously defend Oculus and its investors to the fullest extent.”
This will throw a wrench into the closing of the deal in the immediate future.
Check out the full Wall Street Journal article including a scathing letter sent from ZeniMax to Oculus’ lawyers and Facebook’s General Counsel.
It’ll be interesting to see how this story plays out in the weeks and months ahead.
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