Is ZeniMax Being a Patentless Troll in Its Claim Against Oculus?

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Is ZeniMax Being a Patentless Troll in Its Claim Against Oculus?

This whole tussle between ZeniMax and John Carmack over his move to Oculus seems a bit strange. Here's why.

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Well said. The whole kerfluffle is just pointless and stupid, and I really hope Zenimax gets slapped with an embarrassingly large fine for wasting everyone's time if it ever goes to court.

Agayek:
Well said. The whole kerfluffle is just pointless and stupid, and I really hope Zenimax gets slapped with an embarrassingly large fine for wasting everyone's time if it ever goes to court.

They won't. People have been clamoring for tort reform for years, but paranoia that it would stop people from being allowed to sue corporations has prevented any sort of fines for frivolous lawsuits from being implemented in the US.

The "Is" in the title seems odd given the content of the article; it is clearly presenting one argument (Not that doing so is negative, just that the article isn't trying for a "both sides get equal play" neutrality stance).

OT: ZeniMax clearly has a patent on thoughts. It's laid out in the employee contract and the EULA of every Bethesda game. Heck, this article alone is probably decent ground to sue.

Steve the Pocket:
They won't. People have been clamoring for tort reform for years, but paranoia that it would stop people from being allowed to sue corporations has prevented any sort of fines for frivolous lawsuits from being implemented in the US.

Yeah, but a man can dream.

@Shamus Young:

The first thing that strikes me as dubious about the ZeniMax claim is that it's kind of vague what they're actually accusing Carmack of stealing.

It's kind of vague because there's an NDA at play. Per Oculus VR, "Zenimax has misstated the purposes and language of the Zenimax non-disclosure agreement that Palmer Luckey signed."

Patented technology? Nope. ZeniMax doesn't have any patents on anything Carmack has done. Source code? The idea that Carmack would steal source code is absurd. If there's any source code at ZeniMax that's worth anything to him, it's stuff he wrote himself and could easily re-create at Oculus.

None of this matters. Look up "assignment of inventions."

Now here comes ZeniMax, claiming that they own some ideas in a field they're not interested in and have no plans to pursue.

No, per Oculus VR, "Zenimax canceled VR support for Doom 3 BFG when Oculus refused Zenimax's demands for a non-dilutable equity stake in Oculus." It's pretty clear from this statement alone that ZeniMax felt justified in asking for equity based on their contributions to Oculus technology, by way of then-ZeniMax employee Carmack.

Our patent system is already horribly broken.

This story has nothing to do with patents.

Facebook bought Oculus for two billion dollars, and ZeniMax saw their relationship with Carmack as a way to lay claim to some of it. It's a bit like the way that distant relatives and old grievances suddenly appear whenever someone wins the lottery. They heard about the money and are looking for a way to get a cut.

Who cares? The timing has no bearing on whether ZeniMax has a case. If laying claim to something would cost you a million dollars, wouldn't you hold off until you were sure you were gambling for more than just attorney's fees?

They are producing nothing, and attempting to take money away from people who are trying to make a new product.

Or, ZeniMax has produced something and they're attempting to get their rightful share. That's a possibility, too.

I'm unsure how believing someone owns a stake in the pie is automatically equated to greed. It looks like a deal was struck with Facebook before Occulus and Zenimax had worked out an agreement on compensation for some kind of technology. That they were pursuing equity ownership pre-facebook is significant.

Tell me, who here would not speak up in such a scenario where you may very well be entitled to tens of millions of dollars or even just a few hundred thousand?

Is it greed? No. Wanting money that absolutely is not yours that you aren't entitled to is greed. Well, no, that's jealousy actually. Greed generally falls in the same line as avarice where it's specifically a desire for far more than you need. But either way, this isn't it.

Imagine this. You took $5 out of my wallet because we're friends and you wanted to invest in something interesting. I'm cool with that, again because we're friends, but I ask for a share in the return on investment in return for my contribution. We bat around some ideas about what would be fair but before we come to a conclusion your investment explodes from five bucks to a several million. What do I do then? In Zenimax's eyes and legally speaking this could be exactly that. But that depends on what kind of intellectual property they're talking about. Is it something that is really Zenimax's or is it not something like that? We'll have to wait and see. What's more is that failure to come to an agreement two years ago does not mean that Zenimax is magically backdated equity. They still need to come to an agreement if anything is still being used that Zenimax gave them with the intention of being compensated later should the company succeed.

Not greed, perse. It could be unwarranted and petty. It could be just jealousy. But not greed if they think they're entitled to it.

Maybe they're just talking about work done to support Doom 3 on the Rift prior to when they dropped the support? In which case this would be very small potatoes instead of big-time Rift equity.

Not to get too technical but it might actually have to do with the contract Carmack was under when he was at Zenimax. I know in mainstream engineering that many companies will discourage you from having outside projects. A lot of contracts are worded so anything you work on using the companies resources and on the companies time is seen as explicitly their property. It's being tricky and spiteful i know but that's how industry functions. They make it so if an employee works under his own steam in his own time and produces something wildly successful they can try and construe that accordance with his contract they own that work because he once sent one e-mail about it using a company computer.

This is, sadly, how companies operate. They COULD argue that because he was also coding for them whilst coding for occults that the overlap in work caused him to use parts of what was essentially Zenimax property since they own the output of I.D. They COULD claim that all his work is their technology whilst he works for them or they could simply claim that elements of Carmack's basic C++ coding techniques were now their property if he codes in similar ways for the Occulus. There are numerous ways they can go about this.

Again this is just a guess but as far as i know (and I've seen first hand) these kinds of contracts are standard operating procedure in technical industries.

It's actually becoming (IT) industry standard to have employee contracts stating that the company owns everything the employee makes while being employed, even in their free time.

Yes it's that absurd but it really is a real thing.

I wouldn't be surprised if Carmack actually had a clause like this in his contract with ZeniMax but he didn't take it seriously, thinking nobody can be so evil and stuff. But there you go, lawyers always try to get their share of everything.

Sgt. Sykes:
I wouldn't be surprised if Carmack actually had a clause like this in his contract with ZeniMax but he didn't take it seriously, thinking nobody can be so evil and stuff. But there you go, lawyers always try to get their share of everything.

Let's say you started a company and hired some people.

Of those employees, a few decide to start their own company, but instead of leaving your employ, they take advantage of:

    - the time for which you're paying them good money;
    - the capital you allocated to the project to which they were assigned; and
    - the resources you made available to them so they could be productive.

Finally, when they're done taking from your pocket, they pack up and leave.

Is protecting your company's assets from misappropriation "evil" then?

This isn't fantasy. This happens all the time.

The assignment of inventions clause can definitely be abused, but it's not inherently a bad thing.

Adraeus:
- the time for which you're paying them good money;

Maybe you missed the part where I said IN THEIR FREE TIME. As in, the time where they are not even in the vicinity of their employer and those resources.

You get a great idea while in bed. Does your employer own that idea now only because you spend a few hours a day with them?

Carmack builds rocket ships in his free time. Does ZeniMax own those too?

And besides, if I hire someone and they take my resources for their own stuff, I can just, I dunno, fire them?

Sgt. Sykes:
Maybe you missed the part where I said IN THEIR FREE TIME.

You said "even in their free time," which meant you were talking about more than one thing.

If you meant only "in their free time," you should have said that.

Sgt. Sykes:
And besides, if I hire someone and they take my resources for their own stuff, I can just, I dunno, fire them?

You can... after they've already taken advantage of you.

If they signed an assignment of inventions agreement, you would be in a strong position to demand recompense, too.

If you had them sign an assignment of inventions agreement and made them aware of that agreement, you might have also discouraged any misbehavior at the start of your relationship with them.

Adraeus:
You said "even in their free time," which meant you were talking about more than one thing.

That was just simple emphasis.

But yes, to be honest I do find the whole concept of 'owning an invention because reasons' dodgy. If an employer specifically tasks me of inventing something for them, and I agree and then make the invention, then yea, they can own it.

Anything else becomes grey area very quickly even (see? just emphasis) disregarding the 'all your free time belongs to us'. What if I'm at work, but have nothing to do for an hour (say, I drove to meet someone and they're an hour late, or I'm stuck at the airport) so I work on my own stuff? Is that company time or mine? What if I simply get an idea while in work and elaborate on it only outside of work? Do they still own my idea? How much of my ideas have to stem in the work in order for them to have any claim on them? 1%? 10%? Etc.

Of course, the company will want a slice and they may argue it's fair. And of course, I won't want to give them anything because I think that's fair. That's why we have courts, to attempt to resolve disputes of 'what is fair'.

We can still have opinions. In this case Zenimax vs. Carmack, I'm inclined to believe that Zenimax may have some (shaky) legal right to something, while Carmack is just being Carmack and not caring about such things. It's not like he didn't encounter this before.

Ever heard of Carmack's reverse? That was a programming thing implemented by JC in Doom 3 (and practically nobody else before him). It turned out, this technique is owned by Creative of all things. Creative stepped up with their claim "to protect their intellectual property", just incidentally I'm sure, a few weeks before Doom 3 was shipping. That's how they forced their EAX crap into an engine otherwise built around open source tech.

Yea, with someone who has been breaking ground with every engine and then open sources every one of them and who leaves a multi-billion corporation for a tiny startup in one corner, and with said multi-billion corporation in the other corner, I'm siding with the former.

BTW I've been watching a lot of developers videos and interviews lately and I'd be willing to believe that whatever knowledge JC came into Oculus with, everything was scrapped and started from scratch, so much changes there were. I find it hard to imagine anything which could stem in Zenimax to still be in Oculus at this point.

And yes, I know, Zenimax wanted some share in Oculus before and they think they're in the right etc. We don't know what their claim is based on. Either way I would hope that the Zenimax and Facebook lawyers battle it out and leave the techies to do their stuff.

You can... after they've already taken advantage of you.

Why? I can fire them at the first sign that they are using my resources for their own gain. Or maybe after a first warning.

What they do in their own time on the other hand is their own business.

Sgt. Sykes:
It's actually becoming (IT) industry standard to have employee contracts stating that the company owns everything the employee makes while being employed, even in their free time.

Yes it's that absurd but it really is a real thing.

I wouldn't be surprised if Carmack actually had a clause like this in his contract with ZeniMax but he didn't take it seriously, thinking nobody can be so evil and stuff. But there you go, lawyers always try to get their share of everything.

Yeah, pretty much this. I suspect this hasn't really been tested in court enough to result in a cast-iron victory for Zenimax, but they've obviously calculated that there's the potential to extract a settlement out of Facebook/Occulus.

I think the real interesting part about all this is that zenimax claims ownership of carmacks "ideas"

How can you lay claim to someones ideas? If this was possible you could essentially banish them from ever working in the programming industry ever again simply by claiming that their new work is based on old ideas they came up with while working for you.

Another interesting point that was talked about earlier is if zenimax now suddenly also has any ownership about carmacks findings regarding his hobby of space engenieering. After all if Carmack uses software that he wrote during his free time that would also automatically belong to zenimax...

What this claim basicly means is that they OWNED carmack body and mind and that is a street right into big brother town.

Eh even in crappy lowly retail jobs if you create something the company can own the rights for it barring probably being able to get around if it has absolutely nothing to do with the company. If you work at burger king and create a new burger even if it sell billions you don't get jack because them laying claim to what you create while your employed with them.

I'd wonder how'd Zenimax plans to prove when an Idea was thought up, code is code and if it isn't the same code can't really own it.

Anyway Facebook will probably just pay them off if this gets anywhere close to actually getting to court.

Just a quick note since people are already talking about the contract aspects, there is also a trade secrete possible dimension to this. Trade Secrets are a protectable form of intellectual property that can cover patentable material, or any knowledge that the company has. The general requirements of trade secrets are that they hold a value to the company and they are secret. So ZeniMax could be claiming they have something like the Occulus Rift or some other piece of technology that went into it that Carmack stole when he left them. I don't think that is what is going on here and it is likely that this is actually a contract issue, but I thought it was worth bringing up the Trade Secret issue.

Love how you guys are going with standard contracts or how your work contracts look. The contract with John Carmack would most likely not be a standard contract as he can get just about whatever terms he wants to include the removal of all those clauses giving Zenimax ownership of anything he does other than the specific work he is doing for Zenimax. Without those clauses, Zenimax has no claim to anything outside of the code he wrote for whatever specific project he was doing for them.

I think the unknowns here do merit further study. Shamus apparently has a hard-on for Carmack and/or Occulus (which an increasing number of games journalist seem to have), and isn't looking at all the facts.

Things Shamus Doesn't Know
1. ZeniMax may have been working on a piece of hardware that we don't know about. The stupid line about "ice cream tech from Honda" is misguided at best and moronic at worst. Companies dabble in things all the time, for diversification, for new profit centers, and sometimes just because they can. Microsoft was a purely software company until the XBox. Then they made the Surface and bought Nokia to make phones. Sega was a hardware/software company that shifted away from a lot of its hardware after a lot of mistakes.

2. Carmack's contract may cover things he worked on with company time or resources. He could have been working on it as a side project at ZeniMax like the Sony employee Ken Kutarigi that made the Super Nintendo sound chip without the board's approval using Sony tech. (Did You Know Gaming - Playstation). We also don't know for sure if he used ZeniMax code (he claims he didn't, but that's why we have investigations, to make sure of these claims)

Things I Don't Understand
Why the ZeniMax hate, Shamus? The only real thing they have is the Scrolls patent debate which does look stupid for ZeniMax and I think was close to being settled (IGN isn't talking about it nonstop, so I'm assuming it's done). Bringing in the "buggy game" argument was also really freaking stupid. Bethesda games are ambitions and large and some bugs are to be expected in things that are ground breaking. If Carmack is as great as you praise him to be, why did they have him working on a crappy title like Rage and use him in making Skyrim or Oblivion or Fallout to polish it up a bit. Seems like poorly allocated resources.

Also, you just basically attacked ZeniMax. I know this is an opinion piece and you're not a real journalist with pesky worries about integrity, but you could have provided a balanced view.

Amen, Shamus! With you all the way.

This is ZeniMax. have they done anything than buying up studios and patent trolling, ever?

Open and shut case of ZeniMax out for cash when they have no real ground to work from but theres a chance so they're going for it. To be honest, I can see the logic - they've got a chance to get some cash for very little expenditure on their part.

On a side note, its little bits like below that always make me smile when I read articles by Shamus:

Shamus Young:
(Disclaimer: Whenever I praise Carmack's work, there's always that one person who points out that they don't care for games from id Software. Fine, but we're not talking about gameplay here. We're talking about software. Carmack has distinguished himself by making games that are stable, smooth, and a couple of steps ahead of what everyone else can do, graphically. You don't have to be an old-school FPS fan to appreciate what the genre accomplished in the 90's.)

Love your writing fella, keep it up.

Brockyman:

Things I Don't Understand
Why the ZeniMax hate, Shamus? The only real thing they have is the Scrolls patent debate which does look stupid for ZeniMax and I think was close to being settled (IGN isn't talking about it nonstop, so I'm assuming it's done). Bringing in the "buggy game" argument was also really freaking stupid. Bethesda games are ambitions and large and some bugs are to be expected in things that are ground breaking. If Carmack is as great as you praise him to be, why did they have him working on a crappy title like Rage and use him in making Skyrim or Oblivion or Fallout to polish it up a bit. Seems like poorly allocated resources.

I think it's more of a love for the Rift and everything they're trying to do than hate for Zenimax. I've got to admit that I want the Rift to succeed at all cost and anything against them might as well be my enemy. But that doesn't mean Zenimax has any less justification for their claim. If I were in negotiations with someone who took $100 out of my wallet and invested it that I should at least get a share of the return, them getting a huge return before we come to an agreement wouldn't make stop trying to do so or ignoring that it was my $100.

That being said. I think Carmack is acknowledging that he is using concepts that he created for Zenimax. He's just coding everything in a different way. That seems to be the gist of it.

Like you said, we need more information from both sides. Without specifics both sides can be viewed as reasonable. That Zenimax and Oculus were in talks at all for equity distribution indicates that Zenimax had something that they were using.

Adraeus:

Sgt. Sykes:
I wouldn't be surprised if Carmack actually had a clause like this in his contract with ZeniMax but he didn't take it seriously, thinking nobody can be so evil and stuff. But there you go, lawyers always try to get their share of everything.

Let's say you started a company and hired some people.

Of those employees, a few decide to start their own company, but instead of leaving your employ, they take advantage of:

    - the time for which you're paying them good money;
    - the capital you allocated to the project to which they were assigned; and
    - the resources you made available to them so they could be productive.

Finally, when they're done taking from your pocket, they pack up and leave.

Is protecting your company's assets from misappropriation "evil" then?

This isn't fantasy. This happens all the time.

The assignment of inventions clause can definitely be abused, but it's not inherently a bad thing.

Funnily enough, it happened with Carmack and Romero when working at Softdisk together...

I don't like Zenimax policies, and I wish facebook crushes them in court for all its shenanigans, past, present and future, with the force of its legal team, but I would be foolish to forget Carmack was not unfamiliar with these situations, or believing that being an influential person working on a (relatively) small project makes him a victim in this situation...

I realize it means nothing, at this point or ever.. but I knew as soon as Carmark left id, it was only a matter of time before he'd end up with legal troubles involving Zenimax. It's their MO at the best of times but with Carmack specifically, they seemed scorned from the moment Carmack announced his departure.

Thunderous Cacophony:
The "Is" in the title seems odd given the content of the article; it is clearly presenting one argument (Not that doing so is negative, just that the article isn't trying for a "both sides get equal play" neutrality stance).

OT: ZeniMax clearly has a patent on thoughts. It's laid out in the employee contract and the EULA of every Bethesda game. Heck, this article alone is probably decent ground to sue.

I was talking to a friend who worked in a Games Workshop store, and he pointed out an interesting clause in his contract - in short, games Workshop owned copyright on any fiction he created while employed for them, whether it was related to a GW IP or not. So, hey, not too far out there to think someone would try that kind of crap in a contract or case.

ZeniMax's claim is unquestionably greed-driven. All business is assumed to be greed driven to some degree.
So the real question is: Does ZeniMax deserve what they claim?

Legally, that will be determined in court. (cue the resounding chorus of "No shit, Sherlock.")

Ethically, I can only guess, but based on what I've seen they had little to no real stake in the budding Virtual Reality market (a conservative approach). Meaning the only real incentive they have is to milk the Occulus Rift's sudden rise in perceived market value without actually supporting it themselves.

A smart business move if it sticks, but highly unethical and ultimately detrimental (of course, business treats ethics as a burden).

In that, yeah, it appears to be unjustified greed.

Windknight:

Thunderous Cacophony:
The "Is" in the title seems odd given the content of the article; it is clearly presenting one argument (Not that doing so is negative, just that the article isn't trying for a "both sides get equal play" neutrality stance).

OT: ZeniMax clearly has a patent on thoughts. It's laid out in the employee contract and the EULA of every Bethesda game. Heck, this article alone is probably decent ground to sue.

I was talking to a friend who worked in a Games Workshop store, and he pointed out an interesting clause in his contract - in short, games Workshop owned copyright on any fiction he created while employed for them, whether it was related to a GW IP or not. So, hey, not too far out there to think someone would try that kind of crap in a contract or case.

That's the horror of modern contract policies and why innovation and invention is dying out.
Large companies have way too much legal muscle to flex. I always hear that it's justified since it's the company taking a risk on the unknown, but the problem with that assumption is that it negates the risk the inventor is making.

The sad truth is that both parties need each other for progress to occur. But as the law is written, it seems that only one party can screw over the other. And as it so happens, the law sides with the money holders.

Adraeus:

The assignment of inventions clause can definitely be abused, but it's not inherently a bad thing.

I get why Assignment of Inventions exists; it's a means of insuring against vandal development and to give investors more incentive to fund comparatively risky R&D. But claiming to effectively own every IDEA that an employee has outside of their contracted assignment is taking the concept way, way too far.

It's a hair's breadth away from claiming ownership over a person (part of them anyway).
Case in point: Carmack's contract with ZeniMax is clearly terminated, ee hasn't used any lines of code from ZeniMax properties (assuming he's telling the truth anyway), and yet they're still coming after him claiming ownership of what can only be his "know-how".
Ie, something in part of his psyche; his mind.

Practical business or not, I find that kind of sickening.

Sgt. Sykes:
Why? I can fire them at the first sign that they are using my resources for their own gain.

Good luck with that! This is how these things usually go down:

Several years into developing the business, what was your first major challenge as CEO that really tested you?

Wild Bill Stealey, cofounder of MicroProse: The summer of 1989. I had a mutiny on my hands by a former Atari president and some of my executives I hired to manage my coin-op game division. In Europe, we had a managing director who couldn't or would not do accounting for funds he had advanced himself from the company. I went over to reprimand him and we find that he has 200,000 in expenses that he has never cleared from the books. So, I remove him from having anything to do with the finances and I come back to the US. The following Monday, the same guy calls me and tells me he's in Baltimore. He has flown from the UK on our company credit card! He tells me he's going to quit anyway and start a competing company. It would have been a lot cheaper to hear that news over the phone, but he wanted to spend MicroProse's money to fly to the States to meet with other members of his new company!

So, I return to the MicroProse offices to talk to my financial officer and he tells me he's quitting to join that new company. I decide to go back to the UK to sort out our operations there. As I'm on the way to the airport, I realize that the managing director and the chief financial officer can't do this by themselves; they had no development! They have a sales guy and the finance guy and they needed a development guy. I go back in and confront my head of development. He says he's thinking about it, so I fire him on the spot. They were spending MicroProse's money and using our ideas to start their new company, so I fired them all. They were guys who I brought into the company and I had to replace them. It was very disheartening.

And, you can imagine, now I've lost my financial officer, my managing director, and my key development manager. At the same time, we were raising a bunch of money, trying to get ready to go public. I was negotiating with Sid [Meier] on his future with the company. He didn't want to have to sign all of the papers or have any financial responsibilities. He didn't want his name on anything that was public. In addition, my now-ex-wife decided that she didn't want to be Mrs. Wild Bill anymore. You know, there was enough money that everybody was saying, "I want some of mine and I don't want to risk it."

(Source: Gamers at Work: Stories Behind the Games People Play)

The first sign of trouble is always too late. That's why there are contracts. Contracts exist for when things go wrong.

Adraeus:
The first sign of trouble is always too late. That's why there are contracts. Contracts exist for when things go wrong.

Microprose? Is that the company that kept changing owners, was always riddled with disputes and then disappeared? Well that's a prime example of a well-managed company I'm sure.

If you want to work for a company that wants to own your free time, go ahead.

Adraeus:
Let's say you started a company and hired some people.

Of those employees, a few decide to start their own company, but instead of leaving your employ, they take advantage of:

    - the time for which you're paying them good money;
    - the capital you allocated to the project to which they were assigned; and
    - the resources you made available to them so they could be productive.

Finally, when they're done taking from your pocket, they pack up and leave.

Is protecting your company's assets from misappropriation "evil" then?

This isn't fantasy. This happens all the time.

The assignment of inventions clause can definitely be abused, but it's not inherently a bad thing.

The problem here is that there's nothing Zenimax has offered up as evidence that this actually happened. If anything, it's less likely this happened since Carmack seemed very up front about having a role with both companies (and I find it difficult to believe Zenimax wouldn't have been apprised of everything going on during the period he was working for both), and as Shamus mentioned, any code he came up with while at Zenimax he could easily recreate in another form to do the exact same thing after the fact. When it comes to writing a program to do something it's like skinning cats: there's always more than one way to do it.

But the real problem here for Zenimax from a PR perspective is that even if they have some measure of a case here, no one in the gaming community is going to believe them, or care if they do. And it's all for the simple reason that abusing the legal system and slapping someone with a frivolous lawsuit is already well established as something that's in their bag of tricks. See their suing Mojang over the title Scrolls for more on that. A case where there was never actually even the slight possibility of any brand confusion. But of course they sued anyway.

Because they're assholes.

And no one roots for someone being an asshole.

Vivi22:
The problem here is that there's nothing Zenimax has offered up as evidence that this actually happened.

There's an NDA on the field.

Shamus Young:
Carmack is pretty much the ideal engineer: Self-effacing, enormously polite, candid, calm, and analytical

And when he wakes up in the morning, it takes an extra half-hour to get ready, as he has to remove all the tongues down his pants.

Zenimax is hoping for a quick settlement I think, because otherwise Oculus and Facebook can just drag this out in the courts for the next 10 years.

I suspect that Sgt. Sykes has it right. I doesn't take a lot of imagination to see a scenario where Carmack dreams up some VR ideas, presents it to Zenimax, who aren't interested, and then he takes the ideas elsewhere, not intending to make any money from it.

The catch, however, is that if he has a standard contract, he doesn't have the right to offer his ideas anywhere else, even if Zenimax doesn't want them. I have no doubt that Carmack had riders in the contract for pre-existing project (it's pretty common to get contract riders for those), but I'd seriously doubt he has wide-ranging exceptions beyond that.

The fact that Oculus was in discussions for a small equity stake leads credence to the idea that Zenimax does have a fairly strong legal claim.

And for better or worse, being a brilliant mind doesn't mean that Carmack even paid attention close attention to exactly what was in his contract. I know a lot of people who would assume that if the company didn't want the idea, they were free to do with it as they like. (This is akin to people who know their company is disposing of assets and take them home. They can get into a heap of trouble, even though the company was going to get nothing useful from the assets.)

While Zenimax is most famous for the infamously famous Bethesda Game Studios, it's also the owner of ID Software. I think the article missed that completely.

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