Games company ZeniMax, which successfully sued Facebook-owned Oculus for $500 million earlier this year, has filed a new lawsuit over Samsung’s Gear VR headset. The suit alleges that Samsung knowingly profited from Oculus technology that was first developed at ZeniMax, then misappropriated by Oculus executive John Carmack.
Carmack, whose company id Software was acquired by ZeniMax in 2009, was one of the driving forces behind the Gear VR. While the headset was released by Samsung, it’s described as “powered by Oculus,” with heavy software optimizations developed by Carmack. But the lawsuit alleges that Carmack owed much of his success at Oculus to software he developed as part of a team at ZeniMax.
Among other things, the Texas court filing claims that Carmack secretly brought Oculus (and former ZeniMax) employee Matt Hooper into id Software’s offices to develop an “attack plan” for mobile VR, which Oculus would later take to Samsung. 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.
ZeniMax’s basic argument is that Samsung would have been aware of the lawsuit against Oculus, which was filed during the initial development of the Gear VR. But “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.” That lawsuit ended with Oculus and its executives being penalized for copyright infringement, false designation, and violating non-disclosure agreements.
The new lawsuit officially accuses Samsung of copyright infringement for using ZeniMax VR code in the Gear VR, as well as trade secret misappropriation, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment. ZeniMax’s case could be bolstered by the previous judgment against Oculus, since the Gear VR is unambiguously based on Oculus software. But that jury didn’t find Oculus guilty of trade secret misappropriation, and here, it will need to argue that Samsung was an accessory to Oculus’ misconduct, not that it was directly stealing ZeniMax’s code.
As this case commences, John Carmack is independently suing ZeniMax for the last portion of his id Software payout, which ZeniMax allegedly withheld as a result of the lawsuit. And Oculus and ZeniMax are still fighting the original suit in court, with Oculus appealing the verdict and ZeniMax seeking to halt the use of Oculus software with an injunction. Here, ZeniMax is seeking damages and royalties based on Samsung’s sales of the Gear VR, and it may seek a similar injunction against use of Oculus software in the Gear VR. Samsung did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the lawsuit.