ZeniMax seek injunction shutting down Oculus SDK

Following a partial victory (and partial defeat) in their legal battle with Oculus over cybergoggles, ZeniMax are trying to shut down a load of Oculus’s software. ZeniMax are owed $500 million in total over Oculus breaking an non-disclosure agreement which gave them insight into John Carmack and ZeniMax’s work on VR, and are now seeking an injunction to shut down anything that benefitted from that knowledge. Basically, they want Oculus to stop using anything built upon that knowledge, stopping the Rift SDK and other software. That’s a big ask which could have huge consequences for Oculus, if approved.

UploadVR have the details and two documents filed on February 23rd by ZeniMax’s lawyers. (ZeniMax, to remind you, are the parent company of Bethesda, id Softworks, and a fair few other studios.)

ZeniMax have proposed an injunction which builds upon their partial win over the NDA breaking to crack down in several ways. They want Oculus to return and/or destroy anything of ZeniMax’s they have. They want Oculus to remove the Rift Kickstarter video which, they say, appears to show John Carmack praising Rift but is actually in reference the Doom 3 VR demo. And here’s the big request:

“Defendant Oculus is permanently enjoined, on a worldwide basis, from using, marketing, selling, distributing, modifying, servicing, copying, or offering for sale or license any products, in whole or in part, that utilize in any form or for any purpose any of the Copyrighted Materials, including but not limited to (i) system software for Oculus PC (including the Oculus PC SDK); (ii) system software for Oculus Mobile (including the Oculus Mobile SDK); (iii) Oculus integration with the Epic Games Unreal Engine; and (iv) Oculus integration with the Unity Technologies Unity Game Engine.”

So, er, that’s a load of the techguts that power Oculus Rift games. That could be catastrophic if given the go-ahead, which would likely push Oculus into dumping an entire truck of make-up money on ZeniMax’s doorstop. If this goes ahead. Which, obviously, Facebook and Oculus will fight against. Facebook told UploadVR:

“ZeniMax’s motion does not change the fact that the verdict was legally flawed and factually unwarranted. We look forward to filing our own motion to set aside the jury’s verdict and, if necessary, filing an appeal that will allow us to put this litigation behind us.”

Legal fights are a lot less exciting than real fights. Facebook say nothing about ZeniMax’s da, ZeniMax don’t call anyone a rat, and neither is shirtless shouting in a car park while their mates implore them to “leave it out.” Oculus could at least release their legal documents and public relations statements as virtual reality scenes, have players sit at a cyberdesk looking at the paper then throwing staplers, cups of tea, etc. when they get riled by accusations. This is the 21st century; movies have promised me everything would be consumed as entertainment media.

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34 Comments

  1. Hedgeclipper says:

    Internet legal opinions at dawn in 3…2…1…

    • Snowskeeper says:

      … 0… -1… -2…

    • MikoSquiz says:

      I doubt it. Nobody cares much about the details of “it would be nice if someone bought ZeniMax just to shut them down, burn down HQ, and salt the earth”.

    • int says:

      Opinions? Have some court related ejaculations instead:

      Objection! Overruled! Your honor! Wigs! Barristers! Reasonable doubt! Unreasonable doubt! Able doubts! Habeas corpus! Have a corpse! Force majeure! Code of Law! Hammurabi! Civilization! Sid Meier! Games!

  2. lglethal says:

    Want to know what kicked off this bit of extra Legal Tango?
    The Oculus chief basically turned around and said “bah $500 Million? That wont even put a dent in our finances”.

    Funnily enough, that seems to have annoyed zenimax just a wee bit, so now they are really going to try to put the boot in. And if they succeed it’s going to cost Oculus a site load more then $500 Million…

    Sometimes it just pays to keep your mouth shut – there seems to be a few Managers around at Oculus who could have used that lesson it seems.

    (for more info:
    link to theregister.co.uk )

  3. kse1977 says:

    I was always confused by the notion that the verdict was a victory for Zenimax. Don’t get me wrong, 500 million is a lot of money, but that decision only said an NDA was violated.

    Based on this decision, it is highly unlikely they will receive an injunction for this. More likely they will have to try their luck at appealing the verdict and then moving for an injunction. Asking a court to institute an injunction after another court determined that there was no copyright violation is likely asking too much. Then again judges can surprise folks.

    • Orillion says:

      Mostly because said judges are not actually required to have any legal qualifications.

      I think the bit about them claiming that Carmack’s part in the Kickstarter pitch was him praising Doom 3 VR is all you really need to know about this case: It’s founded on pettiness, and Zenimax are basically employing the North Korea School of Truth to see what sticks.

      • trjp says:

        erm – Judges in most countries must pass the Bar Exam (or equivalent) which means first getting a Law Degree and then a LOT of further work and examinations…

        Not exactly what I’d call “no legal qualifications” – in-fact about as far from that as it’s possible to get.

        If you meant non-legal qualifications – as-in an understanding of the subject matter, Judges don’t need that because the lawyers make arguments and the Judge rules based on the law and on the basis of who made the better arguments…

    • mattevansc3 says:

      That’s not correct. Zenimax won the NDA breach, false designation AND the Copyright Infringement claim. What they didn’t win was the theft of trade secrets.

      A lot of sites got Copyright confused with Trademark and reported the money was won for using Doom3 in their promotions. Logos are trademarked, code is copyrighted.

      Zenimax essentially argued;
      NDA Breach – Oculus published our SDKs and technical specifications even though they signed an agreement they wouldn’t.
      False Designation – Oculus claimed they invented the Rift as it is now. That’s our tech so WE invented it.
      Copyright Infringement – The code powering the Rift, SDKs, middleware, etc is our code and Oculus need our permission to use it.
      Theft of trade secrets – Oculus got our tech without our permission.

      The court agreed with Zenimax on the first three. They only disagreed with the theft element which relates to HOW not WHAT was taken.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    This lawsuit whining is really only making me less happy with Zenimax. Is shutting VR development down worth pissing off the customer base?

    • Orillion says:

      If pissing off the customer base actually did anything to hurt them, Zenimax would’ve gone out of business ages ago. For my part, my eye is firmly off of ESO Morrowind now, but realistically maybe a dozen people will cancel their pre-orders and everything else will be business as usual for them, not least because they have a near-monopoly on big budget open world RPGs.

    • SaintAn says:

      Weird how you think anyone cares about Oculus Rift at this point. They sold out to Facebook for a billion dollars after getting other people to fund their product and kept all that donated money. And everyone hates Facebook. Then Palmer used some of that sellout money to fund pro-Trump campaigns.

      If anything it makes me want to buy more from Zeni even though they ruined their IP’s.

      • mwoody says:

        “…kept all that donated money.”

        They gave everyone who pledged to the original Kickstarter not only the Dev Kit they were promised, but also the final release versions of the hardware. That was not mentioned anywhere in the original pledge levels. They got the release hardware AND the original dev kit for less than the cost of the final version which, given that the original dev kit sold used for way more than the original cost, was a hell of a deal.

        There are certainly reasons to dislike Oculus and Facebook, but the idea that their Kickstarter supporters should feel cheated is ridiculous.

  5. Sakib K says:

    I do agree.

    Website- link to interiordesignlist.puzl.com

  6. Menthalion says:

    By holding Oculus’ customers hostage in their pathetic cash-grab into Facebook’s wallet, Zenimax seem to forget these people are their customers too.

    And even while I’m not getting into VR and would get a Vive over a Rift for more than technical reasons, organisations treating their customers like that won’t get a penny from me from here on.

    • kse1977 says:

      After getting their 500 million after their day in court, the fact that Zenimax is trying to go full-scale, is just more of Zenimax being Zenimax. I would be stunned if anybody over there actually thought they had a chance of getting this injunction in place. Not sure even who they are posturing for at this point. Then again I could be here in a week writing a massive mea culpa about how wrong I was on this issue. I doubt it, but you never know.

    • SaintAn says:

      Anyone supporting OR deserves this. Rotten company that used and betrayed its original supporters. Even Valve’s VR is a better choice, and Valve is a horrible rotten company ruining PC gaming, but at least they’re not ruining real life with social media which makes everyone that uses it stupid, and supporting Trump with a meme campaign.

      • falcon2001 says:

        “Used” their original backers by cheating them and only giving them both a devkit AND the launch version, twice as much as promised. What a terrible company. How awful of them.

        And Steam – absolutely ruining PC gaming in ways that can’t be defined or discussed but are obvious of course. Of course.

        Is being wrong a hobby of yours or do you do it professionally?

      • kse1977 says:

        So Oculus is terrible because Facebook and Trump? Who cares who Lucky Palmer supports politically? Isn’t Zuckerberg like the biggest liberal around? Didn’t the Rift more than provide what they promised to Kickstarter backers? What is with the hyperbole? How was anybody betrayed? Why would anybody gamer deserve to have a system they paid at least 600 dollars for have it stop making games or working? Who does that help? Who hurt you? IS anybody available to give you a hug? Perhaps we could establish a go-fund-me for you so that you could get an emotional support animal and stop being so agitated?

        • aldo_14 says:

          So Oculus is terrible because Facebook and Trump? Who cares who Lucky Palmer supports politically? Isn’t Zuckerberg like the biggest liberal around?

          I think any person is more than entitled to dislike a product due to political associations, particularly where one person gaining from purchase of that product is being politically active with that money, even if that doesn’t entitle you to welcome purchasers suffering (aside from everything else, many of whom will have purchased before the political aspects).

          Wrt to the whole Luckey/Zuckerburg/Facebook thing… the difference would be that the former was politically active, the middle didn’t really do anything politically (doesn’t really have any obvious or established political views or a registered party affiliation*, and both he and Facebook in general appear to have donated more to Republicans in the US than Democrats), and the latter arguably acted as a publisher of hate speech and deliberate misinformation without accepting responsibility for moderation of content. Both are open to their own criticisms and neither of which (IMO, of course) would invalidate the other.

          *A US concept I find a bit strange and confusing, but whatever.

          Anyways, TLDR; I think original poster has every right to criticise the product based on who makes money from it, and what they do with that money.

          I don’t agree with the notion that people that did buy OR deserve punishment or mistreatment, though, as that’s a stupid concept in so many ways.

  7. Kamalen says:

    Boy, that escalated quickly. I didnt followed the whole story, but what appened here that pushed Zenimax to ask to nuke the whole thing ?

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I believe Facebook said something about Zenimax’s mum.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      Zenimax pretty much built the Occulus Rift. As a thank you Occulus stole Zenimax’s staff, published their tech, claimed they made it and countered Zenimax’s offer to buy shares with what could only be considered an insult.

  8. Holden McGroin says:

    If they remove my ability to drive around in supercars and spaceships i will _never_ touch anything Zenimax again.

    OR alternatively, they buy me the vive..

    • Daemoroth says:

      Heh, it’d be quite funny (And a bit of a wake-up call) if Zenimax succeeds with this injunction, and as a response there’s a (successful, let’s keep it hypothetical here) class-action lawsuit against them demanding a full (retail) refund for every Rift owner.

  9. Tei says:

    Is time to accept that 3D was a bad idea, and go back to 2D graphics.

    • waltC says:

      All 3d is simulated in 2D, anyway. The difference is that in 2d you can’t walk around an object and view it from all sides–3d, simulated in 2d, allows you to do that. All monitors are 2d devices–w x h without any depth (z axis). In “3d games” the z-axis is simulated–2-d presents nothing except flat sprites, etc.

      The problem for Carmack and friends is that Carmack sold his soul to Zenimax when he sold them ID Software. A deal with the devil is a deal with the devil any way you look at it…;)

  10. Sin Vega says:

    $500 million is probably the biggest profit anyone will ever make on VR

  11. racccoon says:

    ZeniMax to win! As they need that money to slowly bail out of what is a fad, called VR