Videogaming legend accused of theft
By Digital News Asia August 30, 2016
- Doom creator accused of stealing VR secrets
- Lawsuit claims files transferred to USB device
IT was the one of the great Silicon Valley fairytales of the last decade. Like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple fame, another American boy wonder finds a company in his parents' garage. The company's idea for a new VR headset takes the world by storm and it is quickly bought by Facebook for US $2 billion.
But now, there are a few holes emerging in this fairytale.
If an amended lawsuit in the US is to be believed, Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus and the 'boy genius' behind the VR headset, Oculus Rift, did not invent anything. If that was not bad enough, the updated lawsuit accuses videogame legend and the programming genius behind games such as Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake, John Carmack, of stealing VR-related trade secrets to help Oculus.
The amended lawsuit against Oculus VR is from ZeniMax Media, the videogame publisher behind the Elder Scrolls series. The lawsuit implicates John Carmack and questions Palmer Luckey's role in the creation of the Oculus Rift.
ZeniMax still alleges that Oculus's key VR technologies were stolen from ZeniMax and it violated contracts and non-disclosure agreements. John Carmack who worked for ZeniMax's subsidiary, Id Software, had signed contracts that made ZeniMax the owner of any technologies he worked on within the company.
The lawsuit says en route to being acquired by Facebook for US $2 billion in 2014, "Oculus needed to be able to explain how it came to own VR technology". The suit now claims, that Brendan Iribe, one of the accused, instructed Oculus staffers to "disseminate to the press the false and fanciful story that Luckey was the brilliant inventor of VR technology" and "had developed that technology in his parents' garage."
"In fact, that story was completely and utterly false," the ZeniMax's claim continues. "Luckey lacked the training, expertise, resources, or know-how to create commercially viable VR technology. His computer programming skills were rudimentary, and he relied on ZeniMax's computer program code and games to demonstrate the prototype Rift. Nevertheless, this fraudulent tale was frequently reported in the media as fact."
See the video below for a brief 'official' history of Oculus Rift.
The really big bombshell is against John Carmack. Oculus CTO John Carmack is now being accused of theft of ZeniMax documents. According to ZeniMax, Carmack "secretly and illegally copied thousands of documents containing ZeniMax's intellectual property from his computer at ZeniMax to a USB storage device which he wrongfully took with him to Oculus."
Also, according to ZeniMax, Carmack returned to his id Software office after departing the company so that he could "take without permission a customised tool that Carmack and other ZeniMax personnel had developed for work on virtual reality."
The amended complaint also says the following: "Carmack has admitted that without ZeniMax, Oculus 'wouldn't exist as a funded company.'" ZeniMax is seeking a monetary judgment against the named defendants "in an amount to be determined at trial."
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