Claims last week from ZeniMax, a video game company, that Oculus VR stole its technology sent a ripple of worry through those who had been following the Oculus VR purchase by Facebook. Facebook’s well-publicized acquisition of the virtual reality company has not been finalized, and an upset — or at worst, a legal brawl over the intellectual ownership of Oculus’ technology — would certainly put a crack in Facebook’s plan to purchase the company.
ZeniMax sent letters to Oculus VR and Facebook claiming that a former ZeniMax employee, John Carmack, handed over intellectual property of ZeniMax’s not only after he left ZeniMax for Oculus, but before he quit as well.
Of course, Oculus has come out denying that any such violations of ZeniMax’s intellectual property have occurred. And its own written retort is quite forceful. Initially, company spokespeople said that the claims from ZeniMax were to be expected as Oculus’s rise to fame has been nothing short of meteoric over two years, and that claims against IP ownership typically come out after technologies make the front pages. In its most recent comeback to ZeniMax’s claims, Oculus asserts what it calls facts. Forbes quotes some of Oculus’ points:
“We are disappointed but not surprised by Zenimax’s actions and we will prove that all of its claims are false. In the meantime, we would like to clarify a few key points:
- 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.
- 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 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 (developer.oculusvr.com), Zenimax has never identified any ‘stolen’ code or technology.”
Whether or not these legal claims made on both sides will affect Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of the company is yet to be determined. Oculus is in Facebook’s top three most expensive purchases in the company’s history, with WhatsApp and Instagram as the other two. This legal debacle could be a hindrance to Oculus’ high-profile purchase, but it is yet to be seen how the two sides will reconcile.