John Carmack's former employer says he stole technology and used it in the Oculus Rift

By Shawn Knight ยท 22 replies
May 1, 2014
Post New Reply
  1. Oculus VR and Facebook may soon find themselves in hot water if claims from ZeniMax are accurate. The former employer of gaming legend and Oculus VR CTO John Carmack claims he stole intellectual property that ultimately helped the Oculus Rift...

    Read more
  2. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    The naughty boy. Give him a slap on the wrist and tell him not to do it again. Isn't it strange how people suddenly appear out of thin air or suddenly have embellished stories to tell once they catch a whiff of a big payout. No doubt the $2 bill. buyout from FB prompted this
    Last edited: May 1, 2014
    gingerbill likes this.
  3. Dukenukemx

    Dukenukemx TS Member Posts: 71   +16

    So John Carmack who was pretty much the guy who made ID's technology is now accused of using his or their technology for something other then their interests. Well, ain't that something.
    gingerbill likes this.
  4. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 955   +515

    "According to sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal, ZeniMax attempted to seek compensation around August 2012 but nothing was ever hammered out."
    If you read the article, you'd know it doesn't have much to do with FB buying it out...
  5. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing. Posts: 3,019   +661

    Might be tough to prove. Carmack carries this stuff around in his head. Sure, it may have been part of what he sold with id Software and then again it may have been developed while he was digging ditches for ZeniMax. However, it is his head and if it was carried out in that container, I think it should be hard to prove he 'stole' anything. We can consider an argument that this 'secret sauce stuff' is more than thought (like it was developed in a super low temp lab) - but I think if it is just algorithms and not blocks of code with a ZeniMax label, it is hard to prove. Since a huge amount of software up through Doom3 is GPL, I think ZeniMax may have to struggle to prove anything.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,256   +454

    Hmm... I hope this doesn't negatively affect the Oculus Rift project. I'm really looking forward to being able to buy one of these things in the near future.
  7. mizkitty

    mizkitty TS Enthusiast Posts: 44   +11

    If this goes back 2 years...I wonder how much of this the Zuckerborg was aware of...
  8. Well, if Zenimax (aka, from now on those evil lazy people) has the patents, legally Oculus is in trouble.
  9. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing. Posts: 3,019   +661

    Not at all sure it can be patented...merely extension of 3D display... and bunches of that is GPL.
  10. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    It sounded more like a half hearted attempt. Now that FB has bought them out it looks like they're coming out with all guns blazing. They smell a bigger payout.
    gingerbill likes this.
  11. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 2,665   +1,097

    Nothing was patented. they own nothing besides a few pieces of sotware that I'm sure carmack already removed from the oculus rift. He's been in this business for a long time, he knows what to do. Zenimax can't win this.
  12. Chris Just

    Chris Just TS Enthusiast Posts: 32

    Wrong Oculus VR was broke due to R&D with no product to sell to the masses and if sued early on it would have only closed them down, now with Facebook's trillions added to the kitty it's time to get payed.
    gingerbill likes this.
  13. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,276   +461

    If this causes my first real hope for true virtual reality for the masses I promise to start a boycott crusade against Zenimax. I've been waiting way too long for this to happen and it's much too close now to get stopped by litigation. Looking at the board for Zenimax it's not really surprising that this is happening:
    • Robert S. Trump (President, Trump Management, Inc.; brother of Donald Trump)[24]
    gingerbill likes this.
  14. 9Nails

    9Nails TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,215   +177

    So ZeniMax is the parent company of iD Software? I could see the complaint. Some software companies try to claim that they own your code, even if it was on a homebrew project. So ZeniMax doesn't own patents, and Carmak says, "Oculus uses zero lines of code that I wrote while under contract to Zenimax." I'm inclined to believe him, and I don't think ZeniMax is doing anything but casting their name in a bad light with gamers.
    gingerbill likes this.

  15. Damn, they really do right just to show the cool people in front of the camera, like carmack or the original maker of elder scroll (don't remember the name). So, my videogame expenses goes to those people?, creepy.
    gingerbill likes this.
  16. Yes it does now have something to do with FB. It was not worth hammering out before FB.
  17. When you move to a new developer job, the new employer is always going to make use of your previous experience, otherwise you would never work again.

    Did John really steal intellectual property, or was it more a case of him taking ideas?
    gingerbill likes this.
  18. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing. Posts: 3,019   +661

    Funny about that...think you can 'get' an idea, but real hard to 'take' one.
  19. So he didn't take ideas from their R&D, he simply got ideas from their R&D. It is a matter of keeping it in context. (Which some people posting here seem to have difficulty doing). As for copying actual code, that probably did not occur.
  20. And yes, gosh-n-tarnation where's my jetpack? evil ford and cadillack put a stop to that too!
  21. What I don't understand is how someone who is working on something that their former company don't support which results in them quitting over becomes in the former company their intellectual property.
  22. Taking ideas? That is going to be real hard to prove in court. Even when you have a team of 10 developers sometimes none of them carry their weight at work. Sometimes only one may have major useful ideas. So who is to say that all the major ideas were not his. And if you leave with them. It was never the former companies property.
  23. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,276   +461

    A very interesting post from the folks at Oculus VR:
    • 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.
    • Zenimax has misstated the purposes and language of the Zenimax non-disclosure agreement that Palmer Luckey signed.
    • 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 canceled VR support for Doom 3 BFG when Oculus refused Zenimax's demands for a non-dilutable equity stake in Oculus.
    • 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 (, Zenimax has never identified any 'stolen' code or technology.

Similar Topics

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...