It has been over a year since we last heard on the legal proceedings involving Oculus VR, its parent company Facebook and ZeniMax Media. The tech company began a legal claim that John Carmack, Oculus VR’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), “illegally misappropriating ZeniMax trade secrets relating to virtual reality technology, and infringing ZeniMax copyrights and trademarks” from when he moved from id Software to his current position within the Oculus VR, ZeniMax also citing “breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and unfair competition against the defendants”.
Whilst Oculus have previously made no bones about their opinion of the claims, describing them as having “no merit whatsoever” and being “a transparent attempt to take advantage of the Oculus VR sale to Facebook”, unfortunately for all parties named in the claim by ZeniMax the motion to dismiss the lawsuit has, as revealed by Polygon, now been denied. The defence’s arguments relating to the accusations of misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of an non-disclosure agreement (NDA) by Palmer Luckey and what is termed ‘unjust enrichment’ being refuted by the judge on July 27th. A following session yesterday, relating to those points directly relating to Facebook, ruled that all five accusations could not be dismissed owing to the discrepancy not being about the position under law, (i.e. the law being wrongly invoked in the accusations) and were instead being about the facts involved, which have to be resolved by the law courts.
What will happen now is that the case will, inevitably go to trial with an initial date targeting just under a year from now on August 1st 2016, at which point both ZeniMax and Oculus will bring their evidence to the court for a jury to decide. In the meantime of course Facebook and Oculus CV will have the launch of the Oculus Rift Consumer Version (CV1) head-mounted display (HMD) to concentrate on this is certainly one distraction that no one involved will be comfortable with. At the time of writing no one from Facebook, Oculus or ZeniMax have commented further.
It may also not just be Oculus and Facebook staff who are affected by any further legal actions. Bethesda Softworks, the force behind The Elder Scrolls series had to come out and state at the time of the initial accusations that the issue wouldn’t stop the developer from creating videogames for the Oculus Rift. Bethesda being owned by ZeniMax the matter could change in the future.
VRFocus will continue to follow this case and will bring you any further information in relation to it, including how it will affect other parties.