After winning a $500 million judgement against Oculus over the development of the company’s virtual reality technology, id Software parent ZeniMax Media is now going after Oculus partner Samsung. In a federal lawsuit filed late last week in the Northern District of Texas, the company says that Samsung’s Gear VR headset, widely advertised as “powered by Oculus,” benefited from technology that was “misappropriated by Oculus” from ZeniMax under a non-disclosure agreement.
Much of the complaint reiterates arguments ZeniMax made in its initial lawsuit against Oculus: that Oculus founder Palmer Luckey would not have been able to develop his VR technology without proprietary information and help that id’s John Carmack gave “in violation of his employment agreement” and an NDA, that Carmack intentionally destroyed evidence to “cover his tracks,” and that code that ended up in the Oculus software was originally developed at ZeniMax.
But the new lawsuit extends the allegations to say that Carmack’s proprietary information was also key to letting Oculus “secretly develop a mobile software development kit (“Mobile SDK”) and related software for the Samsung Gear VR.” According to ZeniMax, this Mobile SDK uses ZeniMax’s trade secrets and copyrighted code, and it was continually developed despite a “cease-and-desist” letter sent during the original Oculus trial.
Among the new allegations in the suit, ZeniMax says it has “security tapes” showing that Carmack let former id employee Matt Hooper into the company’s offices “unattended, free to examine ZeniMax confidential materials.” The night that Hooper visited, the suit alleges, he e-mailed contacts at Oculus to say he and Carmack had “formulated an ‘attack plan’ for the mobile VR work that they would undertake at Oculus.”
ZeniMax seems to come into this new case at something of an advantage, since a court has already found that Oculus and its executives violated an NDA in using information from Carmack before hiring him. That said, the court rejected the more sweeping claim that Carmack stole “trade secrets” from ZeniMax, destroyed evidence, or directly used copyrighted code developed at the company. And it’s unclear whether Samsung would be directly liable for using Oculus technology it accepted in good faith.
ZeniMax continues its legal fight with Oculus on other fronts as well. In February, the company filed an injunction attempting to halt the sale of Oculus system software (and, by extension, the hardware itself). Carmack, meanwhile, has filed his own $22.5 million lawsuit against ZeniMax for alleged breach of contract regarding payments from the id Software buyout.