Virtual reality (VR) specialist Oculus VR is no stranger to legal battles. Since being purchased by social networking giant Facebook for $2 billion USD back in 2014 the company has faced accusations from ZeniMax Media, parent company of Bethesda Softworks, surrounding former employee John Carmack’s transition to his current role as Chief Technology Officer. This week sees new claims levelled at the company, this time from a firm known as Total Recall Technologies, which was created as a partnership between Ron Igra and Thomas Seidl.
The company has filed a suit against Oculus VR and its founder and creator of the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD), Palmer Luckey, with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In a filed complaint Total Recall Technologies claim to have approached Luckey in December 2010, before he had created the first prototypes of what would become the Oculus Rift. The pair apparently discussed working on a 3D HMD and, the following year, asked Luckey to build a prototype of such a device. According to Total Recall Technologies these alleged conversations and works were intended to be kept confidential, and Luckey reportedly signed a contract and nondisclosure agreement to this tune.
Total Recall Technologies’ main complaint concerns the Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign for the Oculus Rift, which raised well over $2 million USD in 2012, which it claims was during the term of this contract. “Without informing the Partnership, on information and belief, Luckey took the information he learned from the Partnership, as well as the prototype that he built for the TRT using design features and other confidential information and materials supplied by the Partnership, and passed it off to others as his own,” the complaint reads.
Thus, the official complaint lists four causes of action, the first being a supposed ‘Breach of Contract’ on Luckey’s behalf, the second a ‘Breach of the Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing’ again levelled at the designer. The third, aimed at both Luckey and Oculus VR itself, accuses the pair of ‘Conversion’, in which Total Recall Technologies-owned property was used for the Oculus Rift. Finally, a fourth cause lists ‘Constructive Fraud’ against both.
Oculus VR itself hasn’t issued a statement on these accusations, and it’s not clear what action will be taken from here on out, though the complaint does list a ‘Demand for a Jury Trial’. VRFocus will continue to follow the situation and has reached out to Oculus VR for comment.