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Oculus: ZeniMax Claims Over Rift Tech Are "False" 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-wasn't-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Unsurprisingly, Oculus VR has denied claims that John Carmack stole technology when he left Zenimax. From the article: 'Oculus VR just sent across an email outlining in seven points what it views as ZeniMax's specious claims about Doom-creator John Carmack and Oculus' virtual reality technology. Last week, ZeniMax accused Oculus VR Chief Technology Officer (and former id Software Doom mastermind) John Carmack of taking "proprietary technology and know-how" with him when he departed the Rockville, Maryland-based Elder Scrolls and Dishonored publisher for a job with Oculus.'"
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Oculus: ZeniMax Claims Over Rift Tech Are "False"

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  • by sokoban (142301) on Monday May 05, 2014 @10:08AM (#46919249) Homepage

    The company that makes Elder Scrolls? Did he steal their new crash every five minutes no matter how many years they spend developing the game technology?

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Monday May 05, 2014 @10:12AM (#46919283)

    In my state, there is no such thing as proprietary know-how. If you don't want someone taking their experience elsewhere, you pay them more, if you don't like that, you're in the wrong state. Of course, this state also has a habit of completely nullifying non-compete clauses that are ridiculous as well, for instance a non-compete clause that extends beyond the state boundaries will almost certainly be completely ignored by the courts. My former employer found out the hardware when they wrote my non-compete as a nation wide non-compete. The court didn't say it was limited to NC or local, it flat out nullified the whole non-compete and released me from my obligations to it across the board.

    They don't take kindly on trying to turn someone into a slave, which is ironic considering I'm in 'the south'

    Stealing code or any data is a different story, but if Carmack had some special experience in his brain that he took with him, Zenimax could go fuck themselves.

    Note: My state is not involved in any of this, just throwing it out there.

    • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday May 05, 2014 @10:15AM (#46919309) Homepage Journal
      Zenimax has already stated that John took no code or documents with him. This is about their right to patent an idea in the future if it looks like it might be a money maker. Other companies are supposed to know that they might want to patent the idea and stay away from it. Why Zenimax didn't just, you know, file for the patents is a question they have not answered.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        You are WRONG. Zenimax's legal position, as clear in their legal statements when one identifies the claimed facts, states that John Carmack's ideas and code were essential during a key period in Oculus VR history. They do NOT claim this input continues to this day as used code or recognisable patents.

        Zenimax is using the DIVORCE argument when a wife claims 50%+ of a career man's assets. America recognises the nebulous input of a wife's 'talents' to a man's career, and claims these 'inputs' entitle her to 50

    • by jythie (914043)
      One of the things that is not clear is if he took code with him or not. Oculus has stated that any code he might have taken with him would have been long since replaced by now, which indicates that he probably did, in which case they might have a case.

      From my reading, this might be a situation where a non-compete clause might make a bit of sense. Zenimax paid him to do research and prototyping for a VR headset, and then he turned around and took what he learned doing that to another company. Even if the
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 05, 2014 @10:26AM (#46919393)

        Zenimax paid him to do research and prototyping for a VR headset, and then he turned around and took what he learned doing that to another company.

        Yeah, if you figure something out while employed, you have to forget what you know when you change employers!

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Zenimax has already stated that John took no code or documents with him.

      • by JohnFen (1641097) on Monday May 05, 2014 @11:11AM (#46919829)

        Even if there is no legal backing to stop him, it is still pretty bad form.

        Why is this bad form? The days of companies and employees expecting loyalty to each other ended a few decades ago.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No, no, no. Companies still expect loyalty from employees (and even former employees), they just don't believe in reciprocation in that regard.

          • Yeah. Companies want to be able to fire your ass at any second but if you leave they expect you to stay 2 weeks.

            Mutual respect for employees is not a common trait for the legal "psychopath", er, corporation.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It looks like Texas has a similar setup to NC and straight up non enforceable in California.

      So it is telling which state they bring the case in.

    • As a Maryland resident, I can tell you the politics out here lean very heavily towards copy-catting all the legislation Washington D.C. can come up with. A good chunk of Maryland consists of areas with a very different political feel, but those tend to be the parts of the state that "don't matter" as far as wielding influence that shapes the state legislation.

      Montgomery County, for example, sits next to the D.C. area, and may as well serve as an extension of D.C. (Maryland actually sold some of its land t

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        The whole east coast is a lot like that. The rest of the country would be better off if they seceded from the northeast states (including MD and DC).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You mean you can buy a company but can't own it's employees?

    Zenimax is mad because their assets are leaving. Don't blame John. Who'd want to work for a boring publisher who prefers bland and safe over real innovation. Dude's just bored. He's always been on the leading edge of pushing new game tech and innovations. Not saying he's always right or successful, but he's always leading edge. Remember when he was talking about mobile gaming years and years before smartphones existed? Did you know there's a J2ME e

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jythie (914043)
      Ahm.. that "boring publisher" was paying him to research and prototype VR headsets. This is actually a good example of why older companies are often nervous about researching new technologies, the pattern of paying people to do research and then they leave to do a startup is an old and frustrating issue in tech. Companies start to feel like they are bankrolling the research phase of startups but not getting a return on it.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 05, 2014 @10:38AM (#46919483)

        Ahm.. that "boring publisher" was paying him to research and prototype VR headsets. This is actually a good example of why older companies are often nervous about researching new technologies, the pattern of paying people to do research and then they leave to do a startup is an old and frustrating issue in tech. Companies start to feel like they are bankrolling the research phase of startups but not getting a return on it.

        They also canned the VR project before he left.

      • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday May 05, 2014 @10:40AM (#46919507) Homepage

        their fault for not paying him more, I have heard the bullshit line from employers before...

        VP of engineering :"We cant afford to lose you"
        Me: "Ok, they are offering me XXX you give me XXX*20% and I'll stay"
        VP of engineering:" We cant afford that"
        Me: "So it seems you CAN afford to lose me, as you refuse to pay me what I am worth."

  • You took my ball!
    No we didn't.
    Yes you did!
    No we didn't.
    MOM!!!
    • by number17 (952777)
      The both of you came up with a game that you play with the ball and he decided to play it with somebody else. He left the ball.
  • Fixed summary (Score:4, Informative)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Monday May 05, 2014 @12:21PM (#46920481) Journal

    Oculus VR denied claims that John Carmack stole Zenimax technology. From the article: 'Last week, ZeniMax accused John Carmack, Oculus VR Chief Technology Officer and former id Software Doom mastermind, of taking "proprietary technology and know-how". Oculus VR countered ZeniMax's claims in a seven-point statement. John Carmack departed Zenimax, the Rockville, Maryland-based publisher of Elder Scrolls and Dishonored, for a job with Oculus, the Irvine, California-based producer of the Oculus Rift VR Headset.'"

    Fixed the summary and the article it quoted from.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Every tech journalist ran with the 'weasel words' of Zenimax's lawyers, and created headlines and articles that COMPLETELY misrepresented Zenimax's position. Let me spell out what Zenimax very carefully stated.

    1) Carmack worked with Oculus VR while still a pained employee of Zenimax.
    2) Carmack's contract with Zenimax gave Zenimax ABSOLUTE ownership of everything iD and everything computer related from the mind of Carmack.
    3) Zenimax and Oculus VR signed an agreement that recognised some nebulous form of poin

  • I seem to remember a case from the middle 90's where an engineer for a ... phone? company came up with an interesting idea for a software-based filter. He talked to a co-worker about it who agreed it could be good, and took it to his superiors. They decided not to pursue it. A year later, he left the company, and he decided to go ahead and write that software - he knew a lot of folks who'd pay for it.

    He was still 2 or 3 months from completing it when his old company heard about it. They sued him, claiming that he had the idea on company time, they could cite that he discussed it with a co-worker (so it was 'developed') and they claimed ownership. He lost his case. The judge had him not only turn over his source code, build environment, and all rights, but made him finish the product and deliver it to the company, with threats of fines or jail time if he acted maliciously (like making it impossible to run, or obfuscated, or anything other than delivering a finished product in a reasonable time frame).

    Searching on google now for these terms just gets me lots of hits for 'bully bosses' and 'henry ford' for some reason, but ... precedent is out there. I just can't find it.

    The upshot is this... If he discussed ideas he had while at Zenimax with anyone else, and those ideas were shared with Oculus, even if they're not patentable or Zenimax had no desire to implement them, they may have a very good case.

    Of course, I'm not a lawyer, so I may be bull-poopooing you inadvertently.

    • by dcollins (135727)

      Sounds like the guy didn't have Facebook-level dollars with which to spar in court.

  • by phorm (591458) on Monday May 05, 2014 @01:27PM (#46921113) Journal

    I can see this situation playing out in a lot of companies

    Employee: Hey, I've got this [great idea]. It's innovative and likely to be popular. Here's how it works.
    Corp: Sounds nice, but there's no guarantee it'll make money. Instead we'll just put out a sequel [game] 2 or perhaps introduce [new game] based on [game]'s existing technology. Maybe we'll get to your idea eventually
    Employee: OK, we've done that. Now about that idea
    Corp: Sorry, we'll need you to work on [game] 3 now. But look, it's got prettier graphics
    Employee: I'm outta here. Nobody listens to my suggestions and so I'm going to [NewCorp] who is interested in my ideas
    Corp: Hey, NewCorp implemented [great idea] and is making money off of them. We should sue because obviously they stole it from us.

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Monday May 05, 2014 @02:27PM (#46921577) Homepage

    The idea that the primary mastermind behind 3D gaming and 3D accelerated instructions, not to mention one of the most recognized names in all of computing, would have stolen ideas from a "who's that?" company is just absurd.

  • taking "proprietary technology and know-how" with him

    Look, if you forgot to administer the mind-wipe when he left the company, that's your own look-out.

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