Oculus says ZeniMax canceled Doom 3 VR support over equity demands

ZeniMax canceled virtual reality support for Doom 3 BFG after Oculus VR refused to give the company a "non-dilutable equity stake in Oculus," according to a statement released to Polygon from Oculus this morning.

Also according to the statement, the reason John Carmack left id Software was because ZeniMax prevented him from working on virtual reality and stopped investing in the tech across the company.

Last week, ZeniMax Media said that Carmack and "others" improperly provided key technology to virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR. Today, Oculus officials denied the claim.

"We are disappointed but not surprised by Zenimax’s actions and we will prove that all of its claims are false," they said in a statement to Polygon.

According to ZeniMax's statement last week, the company "recently sent formal notice of its legal rights to Oculus concerning its ownership of key technology used by Oculus to develop and market the Oculus Rift. ZeniMax's technology may not be licensed, transferred or sold without ZeniMax Media's approval. ZeniMax's intellectual property rights arise by reason of extensive VR research and development works done over a number of years by John Carmack while a ZeniMax employee, and others. ZeniMax provided necessary VR technology and other valuable assistance to [Oculus VR founder] Palmer Luckey and other Oculus employees in 2012 and 2013 to make the Oculus Rift a viable VR product, superior to other VR market offerings."

The dispute, according to a Wall Street Journal story, traces back to 2012 when Carmack is said to have contacted Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey, who was then researching virtual reality at the University of Southern California, and Palmer sent a prototype headset to Carmack.

ZeniMax says that Carmack contributed software for an early prototype, and that prototype was the template for the headset. 

In the email to Polygon, Oculus officials said they didn't have any other response to ZeniMax's claims for now but that they wanted to "clarify a few key points."

The company said that there "is not a line of ZeniMax code or any of its key technology in Oculus products" and that Carmack did not take any intellectual property from ZeniMax.

"Despite the fact that the full source code for the Oculus SDK is available online (developer.oculusvr.com), Zenimax has never identified any ‘stolen’ code or technology,'" according to the statement.

According to last week's Wall Street Journal story, ZemiMax began seeking compensation around August 2012.

But in today's statement from Oculus, the company says that 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."

In last week's statement, ZeniMax also said that "well before the Facebook transaction was announced, Mr. Luckey acknowledged in writing ZeniMax's legal ownership of this intellectual property. It was further agreed that Mr. Luckey would not disclose this technology to third persons without approval."

But today, Oculus writes that ZeniMax is mistating the "purpose and language of the ZeniMax non-disclosure agreement that Palmer Luckey signed."

While a formal suit has not yet been filed, in their statement last week ZeniMax made it clear they weren't going to drop the matter.

"ZeniMax and Oculus previously attempted to reach an agreement whereby ZeniMax would be compensated for its intellectual property through equity ownership in Oculus but were unable to reach a satisfactory resolution. ZeniMax believes it is necessary to address these matters now and will take the necessary action to protect its interests."

ZeniMax declined to provide additional comment on the issue today.

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