Oculus denies John Carmack stole VR tech from his former employer

When word came out last week that Oculus VR Chief Technology Officer John Carmack was being accused by his former employer of stealing intellectual property for use in his new gig, the nascent Facebook subsidiary only issued a cursory statement: "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." The company's expanding on that statement today, and pushing back on the claims made by Zenimax.

"We are disappointed, but not surprised by Zenimax's actions and we will prove that all of its claims are false," the statement from Oculus reads. The company then lays out a list of refutations to Zenimax's claims. Some highlights:

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

  • "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."

Further, Oculus' statements out some interesting details about the history of Zenimax working with Palmer Luckey on VR in the past few years. For instance, Oculus claims that, "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." Interestingly, though Carmack's departure from id Software (a development studio he co-founded, now owned by Zenimax Media) was announced in August 2013, both Oculus and Zenimax danced around the terms of the arrangement. It wasn't until November of last year that Carmack supposedly joined Oculus full-time/left id Software completely.

Folks who've been following the Oculus story from the beginning will remember a promised Doom 3 BFG version that was set to ship with the original Kickstarter Oculus Rift. That bonus was eventually canned, and replaced with credit on Valve's Steam game store. According to today's statement from Oculus, "Zenimax canceled VR support for Doom 3 BFG when Oculus refused Zenimax's demands for a non-dilutable equity stake in Oculus."

That last bit means, "Oculus didn't want to give Zenimax as much of an ownership stake in Oculus as Zenimax wanted, so Zenimax pulled support for a Rift-related product." So, arguments over money then.

One last bit that Oculus points out is that the full Oculus SDK is online (available here), and "Zenimax has never identified any 'stolen' code or technology" in that source. That sounds like a job for the internet! Do you folks see any code in there that stands out? Feel free to let us know!