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Oculus: ZeniMax Claims Over Rift Tech Are "False"

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the it-wasn't-us dept.

Businesses 72

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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The End of Carmack? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919227)

He had a good run.

Re:The End of Carmack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919327)

How could this be the end of Carmack?
There's no question on the quality of his work.
Worst case scenario he loses some of the bonus he got when Facebook took over Occulus.

Re:The End of Carmack? (2)

mfh (56) | about 7 months ago | (#46920395)

Nice try, American McGee!

Stealing from Elder Scrolls? (4, Funny)

sokoban (142301) | about 7 months ago | (#46919249)

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?

Re:Stealing from Elder Scrolls? (4, Funny)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 7 months ago | (#46919381)

He stole their prized, proprietary, "Horse Armor" technology.

Re:Stealing from Elder Scrolls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46923047)

I read that as Hosed Armor...actually, either fits.

Re:Stealing from Elder Scrolls? (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about 7 months ago | (#46926987)

I read that as Hosed Armor...actually, either fits.

I read it as Horse Amour. Turns out that doesn't fit very well at all.

Re:Stealing from Elder Scrolls? (2)

Kenja (541830) | about 7 months ago | (#46919391)

He stole their proprietary broken quest technology!

Re:Stealing from Elder Scrolls? (1)

space_jake (687452) | about 7 months ago | (#46919423)

Not the prized Daggerfall-through-the-world algorithms!

Re:Stealing from Elder Scrolls? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919425)

If you crash every five minutes on vanilla Skyrim, then your rig sucks. Hands-down, it's widely-acclaimed as being one of the most stable platforms out there, thanks to years of tweaks and bug fixes.

If you crash every five minutes running Skyrim loaded with mods and 4k textures.... well, your rig isn't as nice as you apparently think it is.

Either way, the problem (judging by the millions of otherwise satisfied customers) is you, and no amount of debugging is going to fix that.

Re:Stealing from Elder Scrolls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919509)

If you crash every five minutes on vanilla Skyrim, then your rig sucks. Hands-down, it's widely-acclaimed as being one of the most stable platforms out there, thanks to years of tweaks and bug fixes.

If you crash every five minutes running Skyrim loaded with mods and 4k textures.... well, your rig isn't as nice as you apparently think it is.

Either way, the problem (judging by the millions of otherwise satisfied customers) is you, and no amount of debugging is going to fix that.

And hey! At least you can press tilde and use the developer's console to work around the bugged quests! Well. At least most of the time.

Re:Stealing from Elder Scrolls? (2)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 7 months ago | (#46920379)

whoosh.

it's a joke. predicated on the fact that at launch, Skyrim had a quite a few problems.

Besides, no matter how clean or nice your machine was, the only people to blame for a bunch of the bugs, like the "horse can walk directly up mountains" glitch, were ZeniMax/Bethesda.

Even though it's long patched and fixed, the joke is just going to keep going around and around until a computer powerful enough to play Crysis can come around and stop this.

Re:Stealing from Elder Scrolls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46921129)

it's a joke. predicated on the fact that at launch, Skyrim had a quite a few problems.

Actually, no. Skyrim was far more stable at launch than the past few ES-style games. Luckily, Bethesda was quick to patch in the missing bugs.

Re:Stealing from Elder Scrolls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46921583)

That's like someone saying four is a small number and you come back and say "no, two is a small number". Two is also a small number, man, and that doesn't mean Skyrim didn't have bugs on launch.

Mirak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46924411)

HAHAHAHAHA, that's funny.

Let me know when you can kill Mirak on PC without using the console.

Re:Stealing from Elder Scrolls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46929119)

No. Zenimax spent millions and millions on that dead turkey of an MMO, The Elder Scrolls "Online", so with that not turning out to be a cash cow they somehow need to get that money back. So with facebook buying Occulus, and apparently having a fair amount of cash, Zenimax would like a donation from them, but they're recalcitrant hence the what I would call spurious claims.

Proprietary 'know-how' (4, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Re:Proprietary 'know-how' (5, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | about 7 months ago | (#46919309)

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.

NOT about patents either (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46920849)

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% of what he has created in his business life. So, Zenimax is stating that since they made a major input into the growth of Oculus VR, regardless of what you label that input, or how long that input usefully continued, they deserve a sizeable chunk of Facebook's TWO BILLION.

This will be laughed out of court. It is an old lawyer trick, usually witnessed in Hollywood. But the USA recognises CONTRACT LAW above all other concepts when it comes down to the dealing of businesses with one another. Does Zenimax have any useful contracts with Oculus VR? No. Was Zenimax 'tricked' into providing Carmack or his 'services'? No. Did Zenimax have ample opportunity for creating a contract between themselves and Oculus VR at the time, detailing remuneration? Yes. Did Zenimax have any excuse for not bothering with such a contract? No.

Remember, Oculus VR was purchased AFTER Carmack had legally separated in every way from his obligations to Zenimax (which resulted from the sale of iD).

There is one curious factor about this case. Oculus VR can honestly state that there is NOTHING innovative about Oculus Rift in any sense. The product is a standard off-the-shelf LCD panel with crude, pre-existing optics attached. The software driving it is all obvious, mostly third-party, and does nothing new. The motion tracking is a dreadful, laggy, use of standard motion sensors- again no invention. Facebook bought a dog, and Carmack (with others) got very much richer. But Zenimax is going to find it impossible to point to significant specifics that Carmack bought to Oculus VR.

Re:Proprietary 'know-how' (1)

jythie (914043) | about 7 months ago | (#46919337)

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

Re:Proprietary 'know-how' (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#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!

Re:Proprietary 'know-how' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46921781)

you have to forget what you know when you change employers!

He may have forgotten that he developed/researched it with Zenimax.

Re:Proprietary 'know-how' (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#46919461)

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

Re:Proprietary 'know-how' (3, Insightful)

JohnFen (1641097) | about 7 months ago | (#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:Proprietary 'know-how' (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46920003)

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

Re:Proprietary 'know-how' (2)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 7 months ago | (#46921311)

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.

Re:Proprietary 'know-how' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46925797)

That's why I have never given notice when leaving a job. Hell, a couple of times the companies I was working for pissed me off to the point that I didn't even tell them I got another job, I just stopped showing up.

Re:Proprietary 'know-how' (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919759)

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.

Unfortunately, your state isn't Maryland.... (2)

King_TJ (85913) | about 7 months ago | (#46919877)

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 to form the District of Columbia in the first place.) Most of Maryland's wealthy and influential live someplace in Montgomery County. Rockville, MD is a big part of Montgomery County, along with Bethesda, Potomac and Chevy Chase.

The area is VERY litigious as well. Everyone's quick to call a lawyer if they feel they've been wronged with anything from a public school's decision to fights over perceived workplace wrongs. So yes, given this climate, it's no surprise at all that Maryland would be really big on such garbage as the "non compete clauses".

Re:Unfortunately, your state isn't Maryland.... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 7 months ago | (#46920209)

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).

NOT Zenimax's claim (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46920943)

Zenimax claim ONE thing only- that Carmack's input to Oculus VR, at a key moment in that company's history, helped grow Oculus VR into a company Facebook wanted to pay two billion dollars to purchase. Zenimax very deliberately does NOT say anything about any specifics of this 'assistance, just that carmack was under contract to Zenimax while providing this assistance.

Put another way, they are saying "everyone knows Carmack is a genius, so obviously his input at Oculus VR must have made all the difference". This is as far from a valid legal argument as it is possible to get. Tracy Ullman tried the same thing, when she tried to grab a large part of the value of "The Simpsons", simply because "The Simpsons" originally appeared as short segments on the "Tracy Ullman Show". She argued "we were responsible for their success, so we are part owners of The Simpsons". The laughter in court was heard around the world.

Zenimax is salty (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919291)

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 elder scrolls game?

If the bland-and-boring-and-derivative-as-shit elder scrolls MMO is a sign of anything, he got out at the right time.

Re:Zenimax is salty (2, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 7 months ago | (#46919359)

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.

Re:Zenimax is salty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919429)

Companies start to feel like they are bankrolling the research phase of startups but not getting a return on it.

Why? Can't they still sell the new technology?

Re:Zenimax is salty (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Re:Zenimax is salty (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#46919507)

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."

Re:Zenimax is salty (5, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | about 7 months ago | (#46919719)

Me: "So it seems you CAN afford to lose me, as you refuse to pay me what I am worth."

Or even twenty percent of what you're worth.

See no evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46921247)

I see what you did there ...

Re:Zenimax is salty (1)

GameMaster (148118) | about 7 months ago | (#46921441)

Since it's a math problem instead of grammar, would that make you an an arithmetic Nazi?

Re:Zenimax is salty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46926907)

Nazithmetic?

Re:Zenimax is salty (3, Funny)

Hillgiant (916436) | about 7 months ago | (#46921615)

Me: "Ok, they are offering me XXX you give me XXX*20% and I'll stay"

Proposal Accepted.

Re:Zenimax is salty (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about 7 months ago | (#46926999)

Maybe XXX is a billion dollars.

Re:Zenimax is salty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919549)

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.

So why does someone leave and create a startup like that anyway? Oh yeah, to get more money.

The problem is caused by not paying rockstar employees what they're worth. Well few employees are actually paid what they're worth. It's just that most are not so talented that they could so easily jump ship and make it on their own. But this guy is.

Give him something more like CEO pay, treat him well, and he won't want to be his own CEO. Otherwise, fuck em. Corporations play hardball all the time. Let them cry a river when somebody does the same to them.

Re:Zenimax is salty (4, Insightful)

JohnFen (1641097) | about 7 months ago | (#46919867)

So why does someone leave and create a startup like that anyway? Oh yeah, to get more money.

Not necessarily. There are a whole ton of nonmonetary reasons why people do things like this. For example, to get creative, technical, or professional control, to escape a terrible employer or working conditions, or (as appears to be the case here) to work on technologies or projects that interest you the most.

Pay is important, but isn't everything.

Re:Zenimax is salty (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 7 months ago | (#46920899)

And because it's a gamble they can afford to make, instead of trying to play the stock market and such. Usually it's either young people who got nothing to lose but time or middle aged people where the kids stand on their own and they're not dependent on the next paycheck to support a family. If you want more money, you find a better job or ask for a raise. If you want a chance at making much more money or bombing totally, you found/join a start-up. Most of them fail miserably, a few are wildly successful.

Re:Zenimax is salty (2)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 7 months ago | (#46921347)

> So why does someone leave and create a startup like that anyway? Oh yeah, to get more money.

That is an incomplete picture.

Gee, didn't we just have a story about older people joining a startup because they want to be freed of corporate bureaucracy, and want work to be fun again??

Ask Slashdot: Joining a Startup As an Older Programmer? [slashdot.org]

Re:Zenimax is salty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919577)

Obviously not paying him well enough.

Older companies are nervous about researching new tech because the old, entrenched pencil dick middle managers don't want their fiefdoms upset by the new guys. There's a difference between "researching" something that will never see the light of day save some patents that will be used to sue future competitors.

Zenimax fucked up. The only reason they're saying something now is because the well publicized Facebook acquisition has made enough noise to catch the attention of the C-level goons that run the place.

They don't really care that they lost John. They only care because the publicity has made them all look like the incompetent fools they are.

Re:Zenimax is salty (1)

mbkennel (97636) | about 7 months ago | (#46920675)

| The only reason they're saying something now is because the well publicized Facebook acquisition has made enough noise to catch the attention of the C-level goons that run the place.

who think that because moneybags Facebook is writing large cheques to expensive M&A lawyers and bankers to get the deal to clear quickly that they can be paid off to go away.

It's a win-big/lose-little situation for Zenimax if they already have some lawyers on payroll.

They should fund a start up of the tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46920241)

If they want to get a return they have to actually, oh, I don't know... take a risk?

Hah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46926291)

How about treating them as humans instead of cogs of a machine? They won't leave if you pay them as much as they could get elsewhere and le tthem do the thing they do. If you can't turn that into a profit why would you want to keep him anyway, you are obviously not a company that can turn innovation into profit. Just keep selling whatever you are selling.

If someone leaves to make a startup you are compensating them wrong, or are calculating the risk differently than they are. Or are just plain boring riks averse old company that gets nothing done and moves so slowly glaziers outpace you.

Last week? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919321)

Uh... no. This has been going on since 2012. Media outlets picked up on it last week, but reality doesn't flow by MSM's knee-jerk attention span.

Neener neener (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 7 months ago | (#46919335)

You took my ball!
No we didn't.
Yes you did!
No we didn't.
MOM!!!

Re:Neener neener (1)

number17 (952777) | about 7 months ago | (#46920381)

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.

"know-how" can be proprietary or stolen? lolwut. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919361)

I fail to understand how "know-how" can be proprietary or stolen. If "know-how" could be stolen, then it would be theft to hire anyone who has ever worked elsewhere.

From the previous story, http://games.slashdot.org/story/14/05/01/1943218/zenimax-accuses-john-carmack-of-stealing-vr-tech,
"The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax."

Is any "know-how" that I acquire in one job and take to another thus "stolen"? Is everything I learned at my university not legally transferable to doing the business of an employer? I think ZeniMax's lawyers need to go back to law school.

Re:"know-how" can be proprietary or stolen? lolwut (1)

lippydude (3635849) | about 7 months ago | (#46919399)

They should of erased his memory before allowing him to leave with their proprietary brainwaves ... ref [imdb.com]

Nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919495)

Nothing to see here. Move along. While litigation by press release is common (see: Apple vs Samsung), it rarely does more than potentially move the trial to a different venue. Typically, these employment disagreements (high profile individual moving to (potential) competitor) result in a pre-trial settlement that both claim as a victory (after paying lots of legal fees; the only ones who win are the lawyers).

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919543)

"Carmack isn't news"

You might be on the wrong site.

More like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919831)

"Hey look that company we've been watching hoping to extort money from via the courts has enough money to make it worth our time now"

Shit like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919911)

is symptomatic of the United States of America, where greed and profits come first hand.

Re:Shit like this (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 7 months ago | (#46920273)

We should rename the country "Ferengi States of America".

Fixed summary (3, Informative)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 7 months ago | (#46920481)

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.

Zenimax NEVER made these 'false' claims (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46920701)

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 point 2.
4) Oculus recognised the concept of paying Zenimax something for Carmack's 'work' but Zenimax never got around to finalising a 'bill'.
5) Zenimax claims that Carmack, with his code and ideas, helped Oculus VR at a key stage in its history- Zenimax NEVER claimed that Carmack's code continued in use at Oculus VR after Carmack formally left Zenimax.
6) Zenimax claims that Carmack's input, in all its forms, was a major part of Oculus VR reaching the position that made it a worthwhile two billion dollar purchase by Facebook.
7) Again, Zenimax NEVER claimed that any IP owned by Zenimax, through Carmack, is currently at play at Oculus VR, or in its current products.

So, Zenimax is suing Oculus because of historic involvement of their 'assets' in Oculus VR's buisness 'growth'- an involvement that Zenimax willingly, of its own free will, happily permitted with ZERO contractual statement of expected remuneration.

I would point out to the owners of Zenimax that by allowing their lawyers to carefully construct 'weasel words' so every loud mouth on-nothing tech journalist would start spouting nonsense about "stolen code" has hurt Zenimax's case in the court of public opinion irrevocably. While the usual shills will say "so what, it is a court that will decide", playing such a moronic dirty game shows that the lawyers are hopeless from day one.

Zenimax wants ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS PLUS to pay for the losses they incurred when they bought iD. Facebook, even under better circumstances, would have only been prepared to bung them a fraction of this figure to make them go away. Now Zenimax has made this personal, and wrongly impugned the reputation of Oculis VR and Carmack (both of whom have squeaky clean hands), Facebook will act to give Zenimax an appropriate 'spanking', both in public and in court.

Ideas made on company time are company property (2)

quietwalker (969769) | about 7 months ago | (#46920741)

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.

Re:Ideas made on company time are company property (1)

dcollins (135727) | about 7 months ago | (#46923033)

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

Re:Ideas made on company time are company property (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46925101)

This depends on the state you are in, which is no doubt the issue here.

In California your ideas are your own generally unless they were directly related to the work you were being paid for.

In half the states in the country, your ideas are your company's - and more importantly they are your company's EVEN IF YOU THOUGHT OF IT OUTSIDE OF WORK HOURS. Because, you know, you don't have work hours, because you are salary.

In fact almost all tech company employment contracts or employee handbooks have clauses (which you agree to by signing some short memo saying you read and agree to everything in it) that say anything you think about or invent or come up with in or out of "work hours" is theirs. The difference is that in some states, like california, there is law on the record that specifically states such conditions are null and void.

Wonder why CA has so many startups and silicon valley is there, not in say the Boston area near MIT? Yeah...that would be it. Go talk to your state representative about it sometime.

Here is a link to the law in CA, similar has been adopted in several states but not typically states that favor employers over employees: http://law.justia.com/codes/california/2005/lab/2870-2872.html

Intellectual property (4, Insightful)

phorm (591458) | about 7 months ago | (#46921113)

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.

just silly (2)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about 7 months ago | (#46921577)

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.

Re:just silly (2)

BitZtream (692029) | about 7 months ago | (#46925579)

Zenimax is hardly an unknown company, not knowing who it is tells us far more about you than them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z... [wikipedia.org]

Stop that man! He's got the know-how! (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 7 months ago | (#46922855)

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.

qq more zenimax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46923661)

this is john carmack we're talking about. maybe you've heard of him.

sooo sorry you ended up with a cup of water, while oculus vr got a fountain.

Legal Zenimax again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46925689)

They're becoming a new EA. First they tried to sue Mojang because their game Scrolls had the word "scroll" in it. Now this. The Scumbag company is now making lame MMOs instead of the amazing SP games they used to in an attempt to pump as much money out of the customer as possible. It's only downhill from here on.

Dang, I had forgotten that I had that thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46926109)

I unplugged the Oculus when Zuck tock over and threw it in the junk pile. I had completely forgotten about it. Is this the type of news we are to expect about Oculus now? Legal junk? Did creativity just die at Occulus with the sale?

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