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posted by martyb on Thursday May 22 2014, @02:26PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the money-see-money-do dept.

Just in: many news outlets report on Zenimax suing Oculus over misappropriation of trade secrets.

ArsTechnica has a good timeline of the "brawl" (too long to post here, but RTFA for it):

What started merely as strongly worded letters and back-and-forth accusations between Id Software parent company ZeniMax Media and VR headset maker Oculus has now turned into an actual legal case. ZeniMax today filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern Texas district accusing Oculus of misappropriation of trade secrets, copyright infringement, breach of contract, unfair competition, unjust enrichment, trademark infringement, and false designation.

In a statement, an Oculus spokesperson said "the lawsuit filed by ZeniMax has no merit whatsoever. As we have previously said, ZeniMax did not contribute to any Oculus technology. Oculus will defend these claims vigorously."

Popcorn, anyone?

[Details on the lawsuit here]

Related Stories

ZeniMax Media Sues Samsung Over Gear VR Headset 13 comments

How do you profit from virtual reality without the need for customers or products? You sue! Fresh from winning a $500 million judgment against Facebook/Oculus, ZeniMax Media is now suing Samsung:

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.

Also at Ars Technica and PC Gamer. Zenimax v Samsung lawsuit. Gear VR.

Previously: Zenimax Sues Oculus on Trade Secrets
Mark Zuckerberg Will Testify in Oculus VR Trade Secrets Trial
Facebook/Oculus Ordered to pay $500 Million to ZeniMax
John Carmack Sues ZeniMax for $22.5 Million
Founder of Oculus VR, Palmer Luckey, Departs Facebook

Related: Samsung to Open VR Movie Studio in New York
Goodbye Cardboard: Google to Create VR Headset to Compete with Samsung's Gear VR
Samsung Gear VR Adds a Tracked Controller


Original Submission

Mark Zuckerberg Will Testify in Oculus VR Trade Secrets Trial 4 comments

The CEO of Facebook will testify against accusations made by ZeniMax Media concerning virtual reality technologies used by Oculus Rift:

ZeniMax Media, the parent company of both Bethesda Softworks and Id Software, says it will prove at trial that John Carmack and others at Oculus stole trade secrets to "misappropriate" virtual reality technology that was first developed while Carmack was working at Id Software. What's more, ZeniMax is now accusing Oculus of "intentional destruction of evidence to cover up their wrongdoing." Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Oculus parent company Facebook, is scheduled to respond to those accusations in testimony starting tomorrow, according to a report by Business insider.

"With the start of the trial of our case in Federal District Court in Dallas against Defendants Facebook, Oculus and its management, ZeniMax and id Software welcome the opportunity to present substantial evidence of the Defendants' misappropriation of our Virtual Reality (VR) intellectual property," ZeniMax wrote in a statement given to Ars. [...] ZeniMax's statement comes after Carmack testified at trial last week, saying the case was "ridiculous and absurd." His testimony echoed Oculus' initial reaction when ZeniMax's accusations first surfaced in 2014.

Previously: Zenimax Sues Oculus on Trade Secrets
Oculus VR made "factually inaccurate" statements in ZeniMax lawsuit, forensic analyst says


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by bucc5062 on Thursday May 22 2014, @04:10PM

    by bucc5062 (699) on Thursday May 22 2014, @04:10PM (#46427)

    When I saw this I had to check to be sure, this is the same company that Facebook just bought.

    Fancy that.

    Just after a $2B purchase some other company crawls out of the woodwork and cries foul, "we helped you" with the not so subtle "and we want some money too". Even if this suit has merit, how is it they waited till *now* to bring up the point that it was collaborative. had the sale not happen would Zenimax just continue on, not saying how much there were a part of the Rift's success?

    Please.

    My bet is that after some clucking and feather fluffing, these cocks will settle, like Zenimax really needs the money. God we are becoming idiots over f'ing Money.

    --
    The more things change, the more they look the same
    • (Score: 2) by monster on Thursday May 22 2014, @04:51PM

      by monster (1260) on Thursday May 22 2014, @04:51PM (#46442) Journal

      Yes, it looks like a money grabber and sour grapes. combined.

      Also, misappropriation of trade secrets? There's no such thing. Either it's plain theft or it's not illegal, "trade secrets" haven't got any legal protection at all, that's what patents are for (and then they aren't secret anymore). Hiring employees who have experience in the field is not misappropriation either, unless they consider their brains as "company property".

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22 2014, @05:29PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22 2014, @05:29PM (#46465)

        "trade secrets" haven't got any legal protection at all

        Wikipedia begs to differ. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_secrets#Curren t_regulation [wikipedia.org]

        • (Score: 2) by monster on Friday May 23 2014, @06:53AM

          by monster (1260) on Friday May 23 2014, @06:53AM (#46650) Journal

          Ok, my comment was too categoric. Anyway, from the "Uniform Trade Secrets Act" page [wikipedia.org]:

          "Misappropriation" means:

                  (i) acquisition of a trade secret of another by a person who knows or has reason to know that the trade secret was acquired by improper means; or
                  (ii) disclosure or use of a trade secret of another without express or implied consent by a person who

                          (A) used improper means to acquire knowledge of the trade secret; or
                          (B) at the time of disclosure or use, knew or had reason to know that his knowledge of the trade secret was

                                  (I) derived from or through a person who had utilized improper means to acquire it;
                                  (II) acquired under circumstances giving rise to a duty to maintain its secrecy or limit its use; or
                                  (III) derived from or through a person who owed a duty to the person seeking relief to maintain its secrecy or limit its use; or

                          (C) before a material change of his [or her] position, knew or had reason to know that it was a trade secret and that knowledge of it had been acquired by accident or mistake.

          Now, how does hiring an employee with specialized knowledge in the field fits in that definition? Unless he took code with him, it doesn't(*), and Carmack is no fool.

          (*) Making "having worked in the same field" fit the definition would make 99% of technical employees unhireable.

      • (Score: 2) by elf on Thursday May 22 2014, @07:32PM

        by elf (64) on Thursday May 22 2014, @07:32PM (#46493)

        This started before FB took over so the FB money pit wasn't a motivation

        The other interesting thing is Carmack said that he met someone who had a much better idea than he did and he dropped what he was doing. If this is true then I don't think Zenimax will have much of a case. I am sure with most of these court cases there is a lot from both sides we don't know.

        I like both companies in this instance, I have much respect for ID and Bethesda as they have made some of my favorite games ever. But I see Oculus as a new innovator is a completely new space so I find it a shame that they are in the situation they are now...as someone else said...it will be popcorn time when this goes to court.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Alfred on Thursday May 22 2014, @05:05PM

      by Alfred (4006) on Thursday May 22 2014, @05:05PM (#46452) Journal

      >God we are becoming idiots over f'ing Money.

      I would say that is the most common thing people become idiots over.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by RaffArundel on Thursday May 22 2014, @05:09PM

      by RaffArundel (3108) on Thursday May 22 2014, @05:09PM (#46457) Homepage

      Yes, popcorn indeed. I have little hope that the Oculus Rift is going to be any good under the Facebook corporate machine - I'd rather just about ANY other company buy it.

      Just after a $2B purchase some other company crawls out of the woodwork and cries foul, "we helped you" with the not so subtle "and we want some money too". Even if this suit has merit, how is it they waited till *now* to bring up the point that it was collaborative. had the sale not happen would Zenimax just continue on, not saying how much there were a part of the Rift's success?

      What I gather from the Gamasutra summary (great additional link, IMO better than the Ars article) was Zenimax was working on getting a piece of the company when Facebook swooped in. My guess is that Zenimax wanted to much and offered too little. Zuck wrote a check, and "stole it out from under them". I'd be pissed too, regardless of merit.

      Spin aside, there are some very interesting points in that document. I am curious how much support Zenimax gave and where they would be without Carmack.

      God we are becoming idiots over f'ing Money.

      Becoming? I think that ship sailed, shortly after we created ships....

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by tibman on Thursday May 22 2014, @05:58PM

        by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 22 2014, @05:58PM (#46471)

        They might be a little pissed about losing Carmack as well. Claiming that everything he wrote, even during his free time, is their property is far fetched. Does that mean they own Armadillo Aerospace as well? I can see a non-compete clause preventing him from working against them but since they don't seem to actually have an HMD, i'll call BS on that too.

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        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by RaffArundel on Thursday May 22 2014, @07:08PM

          by RaffArundel (3108) on Thursday May 22 2014, @07:08PM (#46488) Homepage

          Claiming that everything he wrote, even during his free time, is their property is far fetched.

          Agreed, and that is exactly what I thought they were doing before getting to see the filing. Taken with a healthy dose of "you know they are spinning things to make their case", Zenimax is claiming that they were more involved than simply letting him work Rift on the side. If (and that is a big IF) that is true, and they were in talks for deeper involvement, there is more merit than I thought. Granted that "merit" went from zero to a very small number.

          As for the non-compete, there is also a claim of other people who quit at the same time and now work at Oculus. I have a generally low opinion on those types of agreements, but there is that. I don't recall anything about having/developing a HMD in-house, but they do claim the low latency and tracking technology was designed in-house. It is clear that they were interested in partnering/acquiring them.

          I thought the Rift was going to be cool. Once they got bought by FB, I greatly lowered my expectations. Now I get to watch two companies I have no particular love for go at each other. It almost makes it interesting again.