Magic Leap, a US start-up making headsets that blend digital objects with real life, is suing former employee Chi Xu for what it claims are “striking similarities” between his augmented reality device, Nreal Light, and its own confidential blueprints.
Former engineer Xu left the company in 2016. As reported by Bloomberg (thanks, GI.biz), the company is now accusing Xu of exploiting their designs to “quickly develop a prototype of lightweight, ergonomically designed, mixed reality glasses for use with smart phones and other devices that are strikingly similar”.
Magic Leap accuses Xu of fraud, unfair competition, and of being in breach of contract and seeks damages as well as the revenue generated by Nreal’s tech to date.
According to the lawsuit filed at the Northern District Court of California on Monday “whereas Nreal purported to develop its Nreal Light product in under two years, Magic Leap developed its technology after extensive investment of time (multiple years), money (hundreds of millions of dollars spent on research and development) and human resources (hundreds of engineers)”. The filing also specifically cites a GDC interview in which Xu areportedly cknowledged his understanding of – and commitment to – AR tech chiefly originated from his role at Magic Leap.
As Magic Leap purports it took seven years of secretive work and more than $2 billion investment to get its project off the ground, the company believes Xu “neglected his work duties” whilst employed there in order to collate sensitive and confidential information about the product in order to launch his own competing device.
Neither Nreal nor Xu have responded to requests for comment.