Did Carmack Really "Steal" ZeniMax's Tech for Oculus Rift?

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Ninjawithagun

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Yes, it is absolutely possible that John Carmack is guilty of industrial espionage. In other words, yes he most likely stole proprietary (and patented) technologies from ZeniMax and integrated them into the Oculus VR development effort. The only problem is actually proving that Carmack actually did it. Most likely, Facebook will negotiate with ZeniMax "out of court" for a unspecified financial settlement.
 

burkhartmj

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The problem I'm seeing is that neither side is being very clear about whether he wrote it FOR them, or independently WHILE he was employed there, but not for them. If he wrote software commissioned by ZeniMax and done using their resources [especially other team members], then it's their's and Oculus needs to license the tech. if he pulled a Wozniak and stayed after hours to work on his own projects by himself, then it's not so cut and dry. And of course if he did it at home but happened to be employed by ZeniMax then they have absolutely no claim to it.
 

trkorecky

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The problem I'm seeing is that neither side is being very clear about whether he wrote it FOR them, or independently WHILE he was employed there, but not for them. If he wrote software commissioned by ZeniMax and done using their resources [especially other team members], then it's their's and Oculus needs to license the tech. if he pulled a Wozniak and stayed after hours to work on his own projects by himself, then it's not so cut and dry. And of course if he did it at home but happened to be employed by ZeniMax then they have absolutely no claim to it.
Unfortunately almost all game studios require employees to sign an inventions clause, giving the studio ownership of everything the employee makes, whether at work on company hard/software or on the employee's own time, with their own software licenses, on their own devices. If he developed this software while he was employed at ZeniMax, and had previously signed an invention clause or similar, then ZeniMax *absolutely* owns everything he did while there and thus Oculus will be required to pay up.
 

Chris Droste

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this article sounds really sketchy. it sounds like that Carmack being Carmack, was interested in VR while ZeniMax was not, but had developmental ties TO VR thanks to Carmack(most likely working on his own) that was subsequently SHARED to Oculus, which Palmer Luckey totally acknowledges. Carmack is smart enough to not just take his "ZeniMax" code and just use the same thing at Oculus. I think this is more about Carmack, dissatisfied with ZeniMax's dis-interest in backing VR development going to Oculus and moving forward with the ideas he had on the table. now that there's a HUGE amount of money backing Oculus, ZeniMax suddenly becomes interested and wants their piece of the pie. I mean, the negotiations prior to the acquisition sounded like "we don't want to invest in you or commit resources to our relationship other than what you already got, but we want money all the same" and since Oculus had not really taken off yet they said "umm, what money? you want to come over here and pick the lint out of our pockets go for it, but if you want money you need something more than a sneeze of alpha code to make that happen"
 

zakaron

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Mr. Carmack is a smart developer; I'm sure he knows exactly where that line is of what code/tech he cannot use at Oculus. In fact, his statement "Oculus uses zero lines of code that I wrote while under contract to Zenimax" tells me that he probably came up with other methods to achieve a similar effect to what he may have worked on previously. Lawyers are not programmers, so I doubt they understand the code behind the product. Just because a Honda Civic and a Nissan GTR have the same amount of tires and a steering wheel, does not make them the same.
 

s997863

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Demanding compensation & pissing off the engineers before the product is even finalized and actually able to make money? Can they find replacements for the likes of Carmack & Abrash?
 

mortsmi7

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"During February 2014, Carmack was asked by ZeniMax Media to disclose all virtual reality inventions he developed while still employed at id Software."

It's their company, you'd think they'd know what they had or didn't have and who worked on it. Sounds like they're grasping straws. That's pretty much admission that they started a lawsuit with barely any ground to stand on.
 

johnnyq1233

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You got to love Big Corporate America! They needed this guy and his talent sooo much that they let him go!
Now that his talent is producing a product that will own the market, they suddenly want a piece of him!
*TRK* I think that would be valid if... The company you are working for pays you 24 hours a day.. then they could say they own all your ideas!
I think that carmack had better ideas then ZeniMax wanted to pursue.
In the end he went to a company that would give him the resources to make those ideas come to reality!
Maybe they should fire the CEO and management team for being too narrow minded and cheap to fully appreciate a brilliant mind!
 

kinney

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We don't have all the facts here of how much Zenimax and Oculus interacted. The statement to me sounds legit, Oculus probably does owe Zenimax. Zenimax isn't a company that frequently starts frivolous lawsuits, which lends this even more credibility.

It was legit to kind of pull one over on the Kickstarter backers by selling out to Facebook, and in the same hand I think it's legit that Oculus probably owes more to Zenimax than they're saying.
 

BranFlake5

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Look out everybody, we got another Steve Jobs arsehole on our hands. Anyone remember when Steve stole the GUI and made it his own.

A sellout and a thief, way to go Carmack.
 

tobalaz

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"During February 2014, Carmack was asked by ZeniMax Media to disclose all virtual reality inventions he developed while still employed at id Software."

It's their company, you'd think they'd know what they had or didn't have and who worked on it. Sounds like they're grasping straws. That's pretty much admission that they started a lawsuit with barely any ground to stand on.
They're going to need something to recoup millions sunk into a MMO they just developed as an attempt to capitalize on the single most epic single player series in history, Elder Scrolls.
Truly grasping at straws there guys, just hope a judge sees it that way too.
 

TomWest

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There's a lot of missing information, but I consider the most plausible case is that Carmack produced useful VR knowledge while working for ZeniMax. ZeniMax wasn't interested, but even so, they legally owned the knowledge that Carmack created while in their employ.

For high-level programmers, the line between company-time and personal-time is pretty gray. I've started several projects on my own time, seen if my employer at the time was interested, and then proceeded on company time if they were. However, I was aware that if they weren't, I couldn't simply use the code I produced while in their employ elsewhere (except for specific exceptions I had written into my employment contract for pre-existing projects.)

It's an unfortunate situation, akin to people getting in trouble for giving away equipment that the company was going to destroy. Yes, it was going to be destroyed, but the employee still doesn't have the right to dispose of it as they see fit.

The language of theft, etc. is strictly media-bait. However, I strongly suspect that ZeniMax has a strong legal claim to at least some ownership, as witnessed by discussions involving equity before the Facebook takeover.
 
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