The Founder of Oculus VR, Palmer Luckey, is being accused of using work other than his own to create the Oculus Rift headset, according to a lawsuit filed last week in California. Total Recall Technologies, a Hawai’i based company says they hired Luckey in 2011 to work for them, and that he took their work in order to start his own company.
According to a story on IGN Luckey worked for Total Recall Technologies and it’s two partners, Ron Igra and Thomas Seidl, in 2011 and 2012 and signed a contract and a non-disclosure agreement in order to design a prototype head mounted display device. In the complaint TRT alleges that Luckey was given confidential information about how the head mounted device was to be designed which he then used without their permission in his designs for the original Oculus VR headset. TRT is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages, though the amount of those damages was not specified. Oculus VR, the company founded by Luckey is also named in the suit.
Total Recall Technologies’ list of claims against Luckey and Oculus VR include: Breach of the Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Conversion, and Constructive Fraud. In November of 2013 TRT patented a method for capturing video of a real world scene and displaying it in a virtual environment via a 3D head mounted display. It will be interesting to see where this goes. Intent is not required to prove a case of fraud, which means any similarity between the TRT patent and the Oculus Rift design may be all that’s needed for TRT to prove the majority of their case. Since Oculus is owned by Facebook, the pockets TRT is going after are quite deep. While a case like this is likely to settle out of court for an undisclosed sum, (cases like this often do) it could be quite lucrative for the small Hawaiin startup.
Oculus VR recently announced that the Rift will begin shipping soon with pre-orders going out later this year, and that the headset will be available to the general public beginning in Q1 of 2016. There is also a pre E3 media event planned for June 11, although exactly what will be discussed there is not known.