John Carmack accused of taking “ZeniMax’s intellectual property with him to Oculus”

Thursday, 1st May 2014 16:37 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

ZeniMax has filed a legal notice against id Software founder John Carmack, accusing him of taking “ZeniMax’s intellectual property with him to Oculus,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

The firm claims Carmack took software he was developing while at id Software with him when he left the firm he co-founded for Oculus VR.

Carkmack took to Twitter to state that while ZeniMax may “own the code” he wrote, “no work ever done has been patented.

“No work I have ever done has been patented,” he said. “Zenimax owns the code that I wrote, but they don’t own VR.”

While Oculus is denying the claim, ZeniMax sent a formal legal notice to the firm asking it to draw up a licensing agreement with it, or ZeniMax will take the company to court.

The claim also states that Oculus VR boss Palmer Luckey was aware of property owned by Zenimax was in-house and acknowledged said property in writing.

A spokesman for Oculus told the Wall Street Journal that the situation was “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,” Oculus continued.

It is unknown at present whether Facebook was aware that ZeniMax was in the process of seeking compensation for its intellectual property developed with the Oculus Rift by Carmack when it made the $2 billion deal.

ZeniMax issued a statement to WSJ noting it had “sent formal notice of its legal rights,” and that it “believes it is necessary to address these matters now and will take the necessary action to protect its interests.”

According to the report, ZeniMax has been seeking compensation from Oculus since August 2012, after Carmack was sent an early prototype of Oculus Rift by Palmer Luckey.

Carmack has demonstrated his modified version of the headset earlier that year during E3 that year, which ZeniMax claims was the “template for Oculus’s Rift headset,” according to the WSJ. Carmack mentioned at the convention that he created new software for the headset in order to make it a “workable product.”

In February 2014, ZeniMax requested that Carmack to disclose any VR inventions created while working at id. Come April 18, ZeniMax contacted Oculus’s lawyers as well as Facebook’s general counsel, Colin Stretch stating: “It was only through the concerted efforts of Mr. Carmack, using technology developed over many years at, and owned by, ZeniMax, that Mr. Luckey was able to transform his garage-based pipe dream into a working reality.”

Carmack became CTO at Oculus VR back in August 2013,  before leaving id Software in November 2013 after attempting to convince ZeniMax to develop games for virtual reality and was turned down.



  1. fearmonkey

    Zenimax lawyers seem to be very sue happy.

    #1 5 months ago
  2. dtyk

    Or Carmack didn’t read the “Everything you create and do under the company’s time and budget is the property of the company” that’s in almost every contract nowadays.

    According to the article, Zenimax have been asking for compensation for almost 2 years. Now that they have 2 billion in the bank no 65 million, what better time to sue?

    #2 5 months ago
  3. bradk825

    Oh humans, always being greedy.

    #3 5 months ago
  4. dtyk

    @bradk825 In this case I actually wouldn’t say that. If Carmack made the foundation prototype under Zenimax payroll, then they have every right to a portion of the property.

    #4 5 months ago
  5. bradk825

    @dtyk Yes, but in that case they should are certainly not in the wrong, but Carmack would be, and they should have been offered licensing funds instead of having to sue for them. Either way, SOMEONE was greedy, we just don’t know who.

    #5 5 months ago
  6. Talkar

    I acutally think Carmack might have done it..
    I believe that he was given freedom to do pretty much what he wanted to do at Id.
    Which obviously could tempt one to work on something that they otherwise would use their sparetime on.

    #6 5 months ago
  7. Butcher8

    Well after the joke that is ESO they are probably looking to take out their frustrations on someone else the greedy bastards. I really really hope Zenimax fail miserably.

    #7 5 months ago
  8. halberykM

    is it “him” the intellectual property?

    #8 5 months ago
  9. Stephany Nunneley

    Statement from Carmack added.

    #9 5 months ago
  10. dtyk

    well, with both Zenimax and Facebook having armies of lawyers, this will just turn out to be a long… dry… very dry… lawsuit for the next few years.

    #10 5 months ago
  11. TheWulf

    I don’t think Carmack’s ever been used to corporate culture. I’m fairly sure that that’s the reason he left Bethesda in the first place, I’m amazed he stuck around for so long after they bought out Id. This might actually convince him that Oculus isn’t a good place to stay, either, since it’s now just corporations at each other’s necks regardless.

    I still have this quiet hope that eventually Carmack will go it alone and do his own thing. He was always at his best and most impressive when doing his own thing and working on his own projects.

    #11 5 months ago
  12. Telepathic.Geometry

    I don’t know who’s in the right here, but it pisses me off that Zenimax are looking for a big cut of the pie of a project that they had absolutely no interest in, and wanted Carmack to quit.

    Still, it seems to me that facebook will have a ninja team of cunt-ish lawyers more than up to the task of defending Carmack. I don’t care if both companies implode, as long as visionaries like Carmack, and the rest of the team at Occulus who are chasing their dream are able to do so without having legal worries hanging over them.

    #12 5 months ago
  13. Darkfield

    Anyone remembers “Scrolls” dilemma a while back?

    #13 5 months ago
  14. ManuOtaku

    I dont know, iam not fond of big corporations going and picking up against the commom man.
    Having said thar they need to prove he did use zenimax resources, and or doing this at working hours, and that all he did is not his work. If thats the case and they can prove it, i will not have any qualms

    #14 5 months ago
  15. Joe Musashi

    All I know is that, going by the cheeky glint in Carmack’s eyes in the header image of this article, he’s definitely up to some sort of shenanigans.


    #15 5 months ago

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