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Oculus fights back against ZeniMax lawsuit

Oculus at E3 2014
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An E3 2014 show attendee plays a video game with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. (Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Back in May, virtual reality pioneer Oculus was served with a scathing lawsuit over accusations that it stole technology from ZeniMax Media, the parent company of gaming powerhouse, Bethesda.

Now, Oculus is firing back.

"ZeniMax's complaint falsely claims ownership in Oculus VR technology in a transparent attempt to take advantage of the Oculus VR sale to Facebook," Oculus says in the response, which was made to the U.S. District Court overseeing the case.

"The truth is quite different. There is not a line of ZeniMax code or any of its technology in any Oculus VR product."

That's been Oculus' defensive refrain since these accusations first appeared. Oculus is now going on the offensive, though, saying ZeniMax's had all but given up on virtual reality earlier this year, and accuses the company of misstating some facts and omitting others.

"Prior to the Facebook acquisition, ZeniMax appeared to have lost whatever interest it had in VR," the company said. "It even instructed [John] Carmack to stop developing virtual reality videogames for the Rift or any other VR HMD. Only after the Facebook acquisition announcement did ZeniMax suddenly begin asserting supposed ownership rights over Oculus VR’s technology."

The Rift, says Oculus, debuted long before Carmack showed it at E3, noting a January 2012 demonstration which used the device to screen an immersive film. As for the NDA Zenimax claims the company signed, the response says founder Palmer Luckey was asked to sign one before Oculus was formed as a company, and that deal was never finalized.

The suit, says Oculus, is solely a result of the money that's in play thanks to the high value Facebook put on the company

"Until the Facebook deal, and the perceived chance for a quick payout, ZeniMax never raised any claim of infringement against Oculus VR, undoubtedly because ZeniMax never has contributed any intellectual property or technology to Oculus VR," it said. "ZeniMax had a golden opportunity to make an early investment in Oculus VR and chose to pass. The lawsuit is nothing more than ZeniMax seeking to correct for a massive missed opportunity through the assertion of meritless litigation."

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