ZeniMax sues Samsung for using its technology in Gear VR

Games company ZeniMax is taking on Samsung after successfully suing Facebook-owned Oculus for using its VR technology. Zenimax has begun legal proceedings against Samsung over its Gear VR headset. The lawsuit claims that Samsung knowingly profited from Oculus technology – first developed at ZeniMax – that is deployed in its VR headset.

ZeniMax first developed the technology in question before it was misused by Oculus executive John Carmack in his firm’s Oculus Rift VR headsets. As a result, a court ordered Oculus to pay $500 million to ZeniMax earlier this year. While the Gear VR headset was released by Samsung it is described as being ‘powered by Oculus’, with software optimisations developed by Carmack. 

The lawsuit alleges that Carmack secretly solicited the help of former ZeniMax employee Matt Hooper to develop an ‘attack plan’ for Carmack’s firm id Software to take over the mobile VR market. Much of this plan is allegedly borrowed from software Carmack developed while at ZeniMax. The Samsung Gear VR was also built on some of the same code as the Oculus Rift, which was the subject of ZeniMax’s earlier lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Samsung would have been aware of the ongoing legal battle against Oculus and therefore it would have been aware of the origins of the technology used in its Gear VR. It reads: ‘Samsung continued to develop the Gear VR with full knowledge of ZeniMax’s allegations and without obtaining any right or permission from ZeniMax to use any of its copyrights or other confidential information’.

As the legal wrangling goes on, Carmack is independently suing ZeniMax for his id Software payout, Oculus and ZeniMax are still fighting the original suit in court (with Oculus appealing the verdict) and ZeniMax is seeking damages and royalties based on Samsung’s Gear VR sales (and may do the same with Oculus). All in all, it’s developing into one sticky legal mess.

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