John Carmack (left) poses with Oculus founder Palmer Luckey (center) and other members of the Oculus team.
What started merely as strongly worded letters and back-and-forth accusations between Id Software parent company ZeniMax Media and VR headset maker Oculus has now turned into an actual legal case. ZeniMax today filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern Texas district accusing Oculus of misappropriation of trade secrets, copyright infringement, breach of contract, unfair competition, unjust enrichment, trademark infringement, and false designation.
The 45-page lawsuit says that ZeniMax “designed the specifications and functionality embodied in the Rift SDK, and directed its development,” and it lays out in detail the specific “copyrighted computer code, trade secret information, and technical know-how” that Id cofounder John Carmack and other ZeniMax employees allegedly provided to Oculus during the development of the Rift, including:
Confidential programming code, methods, plans, designs, concepts, improvements, modifications, research data and results, and know-how related to virtual reality headsets; interfaces between virtual reality headsets and interactive entertainment content and/or software; sensors and optical components calibration; latency reduction; low-latency head-tracking, including positional and absolute tracking; head and neck modeling; predictive tracking; chromatic aberration reduction; distortion, motion blur, and jitter/judder reduction; pre-warping of displayed images; combining and selecting devices, displays, cables, optics, and related hardware solutions best-suited for improving the user’s virtual reality experience; minimizing or removing the “screen door” effect on the display; minimizing simulator sickness and/or motion sickness for users; and creating a commercially viable virtual reality headset.
ZeniMax began actively pursuing VR technology in 2011, the lawsuit says, but the company ran into “a significant limitation” regarding the latency of the display’s reaction to movement. Still, ZeniMax planned to demonstrate its existing VR technology using Doom 3: BFG Edition at E3 2012, before Carmack had even heard of the Rift.
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