Oculus Calls Zenimax Lawsuit ‘Wasteful’ They Did Not Have ‘Vision, Expertise, Or Patience’ To Build The Rift

by David Jagneaux • January 10th, 2017

Yesterday we announced that the ZeniMax Media v. Oculus VR trial had officially begun in Dallas, TX. For those unaware, the court case is regarding the fact that ZeniMax claims that the Rift was created with the use of stolen technology from ZeniMax employees, such as John Carmack, as well as calling into question the assistance he provided to Palmer Luckey and the Oculus team while he was still employed by ZeniMax. After leaving ZeniMax and id Software, the game development studio he co-founded, he joined Oculus as CTO in 2013.

Today, an Oculus spokesperson issued this official statement to Upload via email:

“We’re eager to present our case in court. Oculus and its founders have invested a wealth of time and money in VR because we believe it can fundamentally transform the way people interact and communicate. We’re disappointed that another company is using wasteful litigation to attempt to take credit for technology that it did not have the vision, expertise, or patience to build.”

These are particularly pointed words that make it clear which stance the VR company is taking. The lawsuit from ZeniMax alleges strong claims such as theft of intellectual property and it will be telling to see how the case turns out. The lawsuit is reportedly worth $2 billion and was filed shortly after Facebook acquired Oculus for approximately the same amount in 2014.

Based on this statement, Oculus appears to be taking a stance of deniability. The trial is planned to last approximately three weeks in Dallas and live witnesses, including Mark Zuckerberg, are expected to be called. UploadVR has a Dallas-area correspondent that should be able to provide reports on what’s happening throughout the trial.

Do you have any questions about this lawsuit? What would you ask the parties involved if you could ask them anything? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • MR Not Dux OSAR

    Commenting on the HTC Vive section of Reddit, Yates asserted:While
    that is generally true in this case every core feature of both the Rift
    and Vive HMDs are directly derived from Valve’s research program.
    Oculus has their own CV-based tracking implementation and frensel lens
    design but the CV1 is otherwise a direct copy of the architecture of the
    1080p Steam Sight prototype Valve lent Oculus when we installed a copy
    of the “Valve Room” at their headquarters. I would call Oculus the first
    SteamVR licensee, but history will likely record a somewhat different
    term for it…

    ZeniMax and id aren’t the only ones with a gripe with Facebook.

    • iceblast

      Oculus already had a headset before Valve even came along. Whatever Valve decided to show Oculus was their decision. Valve was never going to make a headset of their own.

      If CV1 is basically a direct copy of Valve’s prototype, why is the Vive so different then. Clearly, CV1 is a better design.

      Oculus is the reason there is a consumer VR headset on the market now. Oculus pretty much single handedly brought VR back to life. Everyone thought VR was a big money waste, and companies pretty much stopped messing with the tech. Companies that were trying to do VR, had like a 45 degree FOV at best, and cost 10’s to 100’s of thousands of dollars. No one thought a consumer headset was possible, VR was a cursed idea, that so many companies lost money on.

      Oculus made people believe in VR again.

      • Ted Owen

        even as a vive user/fanboy I agree to that.
        but lets not forget the role of kickstarter and even more so all the glorious people that took a good risk investing their money into making it a reality.

        • DougP

          Re: “lets not forget” “kickstarter”
          Um….lets not forget that back in the beginning of 2012, BEFORE Rift was even on kickstarter, Valve had working VR system with full room tracking, which they demo’d to Palmer Luckey & educated him on how to handle tracking.

          We’re already seeing this *revisionist* history trying to credit Palmer with something he didn’t invent, when it was Valve who not only refined/developed but taught Oculus how to do it right.
          (sigh)

          • Azreal42

            Yes before Rift was on kickstarter, there was a room demo.
            But before the room demo, there was the first rift prototype photos on mbws…

            I don’t get the point ? Why do we care who was first ?

          • Konchu

            I personally feel it was an inevitable thing for VR to come back. Oculus did help draw interest publicity wise with the kickstarter and the other work they do. But I think the unsung hero here was the Smart phone wars and the push for better and better displays making good VR possible. We have had many head mounted display techs come fairly spaced out over the last 20 years or more so someone would have figured out it was ready. But I am happy that spotlight was shone earlier than later 🙂

          • Unspoken

            Do you happen to have a source for this? I know Valve (back then Michael Abrash) demoed their prototype to Brendan Iribe in September 2013, which was a big deal. But I have never heard Valve demoing their prototype to Luckey in 2012. I would gladly read that article since I clearly have missed a big thing in Oculus’ history.

        • iceblast

          Of course, I’m not taking anything away from them. Just seems many people have forgotten Oculus’s role in there being VR in the first. VR was very much dead, till Oculus with a great deal of work, brought it back to life.

    • DougP

      You’re right.

      All this revisionist history so soon….

      Early 2012 Valve already had a working room-scale prototype, which they demo’d to Palmer (& taught him how to address positional tracking, requiring ext hardware)…. well BEFORE Oculus even went to Kickstarter.
      Sadly, the Oculus fanboys don’t know better & will propagate this *myth* of Palmer, as he was a vocal “face” of VR, whilst Valve was quietly designing the future which we’re all in the VR world benefited from.

      • iceblast

        Sorry guy, but Palmer sent John Carmack his design and Carmack built the first Rift, and took it to one of the shows, and it was a big hit.

        Valve Prototype was highly expensive, no where near consumer level costs. Also, Valve isn’t the only company that had VR headsets either. None of them were inexpensive.

        What Valve did, was give Palmer and the gang a look at what presence was, and why it was important. Valve was never going to make a headset. It was just something they were playing with. They were interesting in AR.

        I believe DK1 was already made, before Valve started to work with Oculus. Valve gave their knowledge to Oculus, because Valve knew, that the games would be sold in their store, and they would be making a killing off it. Same with HTC, HTC spends the money to make a headset with Valve’s help, and Valve sells more software. It’s always a win win for them.

        Also, if Valve had already had a awesome headset, why is the Rift a better design than the Vive. When Valve was already years ahead of Oculus…..

        Palmer, without him, and his energy that he put into doing PR for VR, VR would still be dead. Because Valve was never going to make a VR headset. It takes a huge amount of money to make and design a headset, and VR was practically a taboo subject. Because so many companies lost so much money on it already. Valve couldn’t afford to risk it, and it would be stupid for them to try. They were already the biggest gaming store in the world, they didn’t need to risk it all for taboo VR.

        So, trying to make it look like Valve was somehow designing the future of VR, when they were never going to make and sell a headset is just ridiculous. Stop trying to rewrite history.

        • nalex66

          Small correction–Palmer sent Carmack his latest working prototype (not just a design), and Carmack hot-glued a different IMU onto it than the one Palmer had been using for rotational tracking.

          • iceblast

            Well, that is what I meant when I said design. I guess I could have been clearer, but most people know that part of history.

            IMO though, I think the biggest contribution was that John Carmack was the one showing it off. That did more for the fledgling VR then anything else. Just knowing that John Carmack was behind the tech brought thousands of eyes to it. Made serious guys, take it seriously. Without him, to draw so much attention to it out of the blue like he did, who knows if VR would have been able to come back to life. Palmer was thinking small, when he put his headset together. The attention Carmack brought, forced him to start thinking bigger, and bigger. It probably felt it bit overwhelming to him, how quickly it grew.

        • DougP

          woop-woop-woop – fanboy alert alarms went off reading your post/comments:
          “So, trying to make it look like Valve was somehow designing the future
          of VR, when they were never going to make and sell a headset”
          When did I ever claim this?
          From your (inaccurate) comments, below, reinventing a timeline (was that from Facebook’s PR department? part of the lawsuit?) … I see that you don’t want to let facts/history get in the way of your mythical “truth”.

          I never said Valve was going to make & sell a headset – can you say strawman argument?
          That would be ridiculous to say, good thing I didn’t actually say it.

          So I suppose in your alternative universe reality view of things – Valve was designing & refining room-scale VR for their *health*? Seriously – that’s your argument. I mean W-T-F?!
          They wanted to work with partners & share the tech/design to get commercially viable VR out there.
          Which, ultimately after Facebook/Oculus mucked things up & didn’t work with Valve (too used to stealing stuff & taking all the credit?), Valve DID do. I suppose next you’ll tell me Valve didn’t work with HTC, as that fact somehow doesn’t align very well with your “Valve was just doing it for the sake of it” & didn’t intend on working with partner to get VR to market.

          And….yeah…go look at your calendar – beginning of/early 2012 had their room-scale positional tracking prototype working & we’re showing it off to people. Well BEFORE Palmer even went to Kickstarter.

          • iceblast

            Did you even bother to read what I said.

            Here’s some more info for you.

            In 2012 Valve developed a system using head-mounted machine vision cameras that were pointed at markers. By January 2013, months past the Oculus Rift’s historic Kickstarter campaign, it had created a single-eye prototype display that it named ‘The Telescope’. No positional tracking.

            April 2013 they made their first positional tracking. The positional tracking was achieved using a fiducial system, essentially using markers as a point of reference. Valve was aware that not everyone would want to stick markers to walls and so work then began on the laser tracking that is now seen in the HTC Vive.

            Until that system was perfected the marker-based approach was still utilised. The VR Room seen at Steam Dev Days was actually prepared by September 2013 with a demo known as ‘The Room’, which consisted of 18 virtual spaces, each providing a different VR experience. This was the demonstration that Iribe and other Oculus VR employees had enjoyed, and gave the team a new high bar to aim for. At this time Valve also developed a different HMD (seen below) that offered tracking with various dots placed on the device, which it would later show outside of the VR Room in 2014.

            In May 2014, four months after Steam Dev Days, Valve completed work on the first version of its HMD to incorporate that laser based tracking that it had begun working on in late 2013.

            It’s not exactly clear when, but eventually Valve did begin to work with HTC on a consumer VR HMD.

            That’s the real history for Valve. Not your inaccurate timeline you keep telling everyone. I’m not a fanboy, I just don’t like inaccurate information being said about something. Clearly you are a Vive/Valve fanboy. You have been slinging your fanboy misinformation for a long time.

            Valve had no plans in making VR, they were working on AR, and playing around with VR for fun. Oculus made them rethink their stance on VR, and they decided to work with Oculus. They learned from each other, till Facebook bought Oculus, and Valve stopped working with them. Few months later, they started working with HTC to make a headset. You have to remember, it was almost 2 years, after John Carmack debuted the Rift at E3 at this point, when Valve started to work with Oculus, and they only worked with them for like 2 or 3 months, and DK2 went on sale 2 or 3 months after that.

            Crystal Cove is when their work with Valve was integrated.

            CV1 and the Vive are very different designs. The tracking is also very different. Oculus made their own, and Valve made their own.

            Also, the software between the 2 is very different as well. With Oculus SDK being superior.

            You can now stop trying to put Palmer in a room that had positional tracking, that Valve hadn’t invented till well after the kickstarter.

      • iceblast

        I just looked a few things up. Valve didn’t start working with Oculus till early 2014. Just before preorders for DK2. It was only 2 or 3 months later, when Facebook bought them, and Valve stopped working with Oculus after that.

        DK1 was already sold by the time Palmer saw Valve’s room.

        • DougP

          Source?
          I bet Facebook’s PR department or lawyers.

          • iceblast

            techcrunch com/2014/03/26/a-brief-history-of-oculus/

          • Get Schwifty!

            DougP…. please… you’re denial of this is starting to make you look bad… its a fact.

          • DougP

            Re: “you’re denial” / “look bad”
            What exactly are you accusing me of *denying*?

            Facts are – Valve was demo’ing room-scale VR designs to gaming/VR industry insiders in early 2012.
            Are we supposed to believe the Palmer/Oculus were ignorant of this for 2yrs?
            The VR industry was just so huge that this got “lost in the deluge of information”?
            Seriously? You actually believe that?
            And your *proof* of this is a techcrunch article?
            Yeah…believing that & sourcing that (& ignoring facts/actual history) does qualify to call someone a fanboy.
            Look, Valve taught Palmer/Oculus what they needed to know about handling positional tracking. Palmer/Facebook decided they wanted to own distribution & didn’t go with Valve’s actual solution & came up with a less elegant (arguably inferior for many use cases) solution. Fine. But…again, let’s not re-invent history. Putting your fingers in your ears saying “la la la …can’t hear you…. Palmer/Oculus were ignorant of Valve for 2yrs…” is just silly & makes YOU look bad.

            Re: “not everything is bad about Oculus and not everything is perfect about
            Vive. Like cars, they all have advantages and disadvantages”
            Ummm….ok, so why say this? I agree with completely with this. I’ve said exactly this in many posts. What’s your point?

          • Benqoi

            Have you a source about a early 2012 presentation of a room scale VR design by Valve ?

            The firsts articles i can find talk about abrash building the wearable computing group at Valve early 2012, and the firsts vr demo to “insiders” in september 2012 (with a 20000$ headset from nvis), after the kickstarter and quakecon where id software and Valve have says a lot of good things about Palmer’s work and how this can be the beginning of the VR revolution.

          • iceblast

            There lots of websites giving the history of VR, and Vive. Here is a website talking about Valve and the Vive, and it’s the website I got the information for in my early post.

            www vrfocus com/2015/06/htc-vive-the-story-so-far/

            Valve was working on AR, they weren’t going to make a VR headset, because it would take tons of money to do, and it was basically a cursed idea, that no one took seriously anymore.

            It’s probably why they created a single-eye prototype display that it named ‘The Telescope’, probably an idea similar to google glass. Valve had to be convinced to start working on VR, because of the Rift. It was like 8 months later that Oculus and Valve started working together. That work didn’t really show it’s self till Crystal Cove, DK2 was already done.

            Valve didn’t invent Optical tracking. Optical tracking has been around for a while.

            Valve didn’t have positional tracking till after 2013, which is well after the Rift Kickstarter. Before that, they were using markers on the wall, they had no external trackers.

            In 2013, Well after the Rift Kickstarter, Valve showed the Rift guys the importance of Presence. They showed them a very high dollar headset, and gave them a goal to shoot for.

  • To try to avoid all the ‘willy wagging’ in these comments (and elsewhere) about who did it first, I’d be more interested to know what the potential fallout could be for each company involved. If Oculus lost, what effect would that have on Rift sales or is it all just about the money?

    • Mourz

      Zuckerberg will have to give up shares or a lump sum of money. This will be similar to what happened with the Winklevoss twins. Occulus will go on, but a loss or settlement is inevitable for Occulus. They stole the tech, as Zuckerberg stole from the Winklevoss twins. Not hating on anyone this stuff just happens, but when you work for these companies you sign paperwork saying you can’t jump to another company with their trade secrets. You have to switch industries if you decide to move, it sucks, but this is business.

      Valve has a good case against Occulus too, but they won’t bring the suit since rift customers are their customers.

      Props to Occulus for what they accomplished, but they also get too much credit. No one company got us to where we are today and no one company will get us where we are going.

      • Wasn’t part of Carmacks argument that he DID switch industries, he went from a software company to a hardware company? I wouldn’t say it was Oculus alone that got us where we are today but if it wasn’t for them things wouldn’t have been ‘kickstarted’ in VR headsets again. Its odd though, that Zenimax waited until the Facebook acquisition before doing anything… almost as if they saw it as a cash cow…

        • Mourz

          You make good points.

          1 Hardware) I would argue that Occlus does not see themselves as just a hardware company.

          2 Suit Timing) Occulus did not have any money until they were acquired by Facebook. They did have a value (Facebook valued at $2 billion, but much of this was first mover advantage, goodwill, etc not book value). This is pretty standard proceeded to gather your evidence and wait to see if the party is worth suiting and then collect damages. If they filed the suit in advanced Occulus might have not been acquired by Facebook. If Occulus wasn’t aquired by Facebook then the Occulus headset would not have been as successful as it was. Cash infusions from Facebook helped smooth over the turmutulous product launch. So it is also kind of good for the VR industry that they did wait.

      • elev8d

        Yeah, I think Valve want Oculus to survive and do well, just not as well as themselves, lol.

  • RationalThought

    The problem is Zenimax managed Valve loosely and they had alot of PET projects and worked on things that interested them. To claim it was Zenimax’s because their employee’s worked on whatever they wanted during work hours and may have contributed to another company is an issue Zenimax should take up with those employee’s. Oculus breached nothing, agreed to nothing and STOLE nothing.

    • Get Schwifty!

      Unless some details haven’t emerged I suspect this case will go by pretty quickly.

  • jimrp

    Hope Palmer kicks ZeniMax lazy ass.