ZeniMax is Going After Samsung Now

By Tom Pritchard on at

ZeniMax, a company that Mark Zuckerberg had never heard of before 2014, is clearly on some sort of victory high after successfully suing Oculus for $500 million. The game publisher has now decided it's going to sue Samsung this time, for pretty much the same reason.

The lawsuit alleges that Samsung knowingly profited from technology that had been developed at ZeniMax and misappropriated by Oculus executive John Carmack.

To recap the events here, John Carmack is best known as the co-founder of id Software - the games company that developed games like Doom and Wolfenstein. id was sold to ZeniMax in 2009, and in 2013 Carmack left to join Oculus as Chief Technical Officer. While at Oculus Carmack was one of the driving forces of the Gear VR, an Oculus-made headset for Samsung Galaxy phones.

The original lawsuit claimed that Carmack stole documents and source code that ended up being used in the Oculus Rift. Also at stake was whether Oculus had infringed on ZeniMax's copyright, and whether Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey violated various non-disclosure agreements he signed with the company.

The new lawsuit against Samsung reiterates some of those points, specifically that Carmack's success at Oculus is down to software he developed while working as part of a team at ZeniMax. The accusations here are that Samsung is guilty of violating ZeniMax's copyright for using its code in the Gear VR, along with trade secret misappropriation, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment.

While the previous judgement against Oculus is likely to work in ZeniMax's favour, it's worth pointing out that the jury didn't find Oculus guilty of misappropriating trade secrets. That's going to be a tricky situation in court, and ZeniMax is also going to have to prove Samsung was an accessory to Oculus's previous misconduct.

The basic argument, however, is that Samsung should have known about the lawsuit since it was filed before initial development on the Gear VR began.  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.”

If successful ZenMmax is likely to seek compensation and royalties from Samsung, and may even file an injunction to prevent the use of Oculus software with the Gear VR.

It's worth pointing out that Oculus and Facebook are appealing against the previous ruling, and Carmack himself is independently suing his former employer for withholding the last portion of his id payout. Basically the whole situation is a mess of lawsuits and legal action that isn't likely to be resolved anytime soon. [The Verge]