“Oculus uses zero lines of code that I wrote while under contract to Zenimax,” Carmack wrote in a tweet.
“No work I have ever done has been patented. Zenimax owns the code that I wrote, but they don’t own VR.”
“It’s unfortunate, but when there’s this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims,” said an Oculus VR spokesperson yesterday.
Gotta side with these people. And add that one of the most offputting things for me when considering trying to get something started in tech is that if you succeed, you WILL be sued. There is NO SCENARIO where you make bank and don’t end up in court cases over bullshit from companies trying to scheme a way to grab your income.
I don’t think I can name a single tech company that has not been dragged into legal bullshit. Most are never not in a state of dealing with spurious legal claims. It’s just a (terrible) cost of doing business in tech.
There is NO SCENARIO where you make bank and don’t end up in court cases over bullshit from companies trying to scheme a way to grab your income.
Sad but probably true. I don’t have personal experience, but I’m reminded of this passage from Cryptonomicon:
“Randy’s right,” Avi says. “The gist of this letter is that we should have told the Dentist what was going on in Kinakuta.”
“But we did not know,” says Eb.
“Doesn’t matter—remember, this is a tactical lawsuit.”
“What does he want?”
“To scare us,” Avi says. “To rattle us. Tomorrow or the next day, he’ll bring in a different lawyer to play good cop—to make us an offer.”
“What kind of offer?” Tom asks.
“We don’t know, of course,” Avi says, “but I’m guessing that Kepler wants a piece of us. He wants to own part of the company.”
Light dawns on the face of everyone except Avi himself, who maintains his almost perpetual mask of cool control. “So it’s bad news, good news, bad news. Bad news number one: Anne’s phone call. Good news: because of what has happened here in the last two days, Epiphyte Corp. is suddenly so desirable that Kepler is ready to play hardball to get his hands on some of our stock.”
“What’s the second bit of bad news?” Randy asks.
“It’s very simple.” Avi turns away from them for a moment, strolls away for a couple of paces until he is blocked by a stone bench, then turns to face them again. “This morning I told you that Epiphyte was worth enough, now, that we could buy people out at a reasonable rate. You probably interpreted that as a good thing. In a way, it was. But a small and valuable company in the business world is like a bright and beautiful bird sitting on a branch in a jungle, singing a happy song that can be heard from a mile away. It attracts pythons.” Avi pauses for a moment. “Usually, the grace period is longer. You get valuable, but then you have some time—weeks or months—to establish a defensive position, before the python manages to slither up the trunk. This time, we happened to get valuable while we were perched virtually on top of the python. Now we’re not valuable any more.”
“What do you mean?” Eb says. “We’re just as valuable as we were this morning.”
"A small company that’s being sued for a ton of money by the Dentist is most certainly not valuable. It probably has an enormous negative value. The only way to give it positive value again is to make the lawsuit go away. See, Kepler holds all the cards. After Tom’s incredible performance yesterday, all of the other guys in that conference room probably wanted a piece of us just as badly as Kepler did. But Kepler had one advantage: he was already in business with us. Which gave him a pretext for filing the lawsuit.
“So I hope you enjoyed our morning in the sun, even though we spent it in a cave,” Avi concludes. He looks at Randy, and lowers his voice regretfully. “And if any of you were thinking of cashing out, let this be a lesson to you: be like the Dentist. Make up your mind and act fast.”
Damn, that’s a fine book. Neal Stephenson is the Great Explainer of our time.
Go out an buy another copy of Cryptonomicon right now, and give it to a friend. (Don’t tell me you don’t own it already…?)
Zenimax have always been litigious, and are ran by a particularly shady character with a background in law who got banned from banking, Robert Altman (not that one).
While they make some good games, or, well, buy companies that make good games, they’re little better than patent trolls when it comes to their courtroom antics.
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