Orange County Business Journal

Oculus Denies Infringement Claims

Chris Casacchia Monday, May 5, 2014

Irvine startup Oculus VR Inc., which is set to be acquired by Facebook Inc., has denied charges made by a Maryland video gaming company that it infringed on key technology that powers its breakthrough virtual reality headset.

Rockville, Md.-based ZeniMax Media claims Oculus used its proprietary technology without approval or compensation and plans to take “the necessary action to protect its interests.”

Oculus in a statement said all claims made by ZeniMax are false, and it outlined several points to underscore its position.

It maintains that there is no ZeniMax code or any other technology in its products; that noted game developer and former ZeniMax employee John Carmack, who helped create the prototype Oculus Rift, didn’t take any intellectual property with him from ZeniMax; and that ZeniMax misstated the purposes and language of a nondisclosure agreement Oculus founder Palmer Luckey signed.

ZeniMax contends it supplied “necessary VR technology” and “other valuable assistance” to Luckey and other Oculus employees in 2012 and 2013 to make the Oculus Rift a viable product and that it owns the technology Carmack developed during his tenure at ZeniMax.

ZeniMax also claims it attempted to reach an intellectual property agreement with Oculus for an equity stake in the company but couldn’t reach a “satisfactory resolution.”

The dispute comes a little more than a month after Facebook announced it planned to acquire Oculus for $2 billion, cementing one of the largest technology buys in Orange County.

“Only after the Facebook deal was announced has Zenimax now made these claims through its lawyers,” Oculus said in the statement.

The deal, Facebook’s second priciest buy in its 10-year history behind its $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp in February, is expected to close by July 1.