Immersion, a US provider of haptic technologies, alleged in a lawsuit Thursday that Meta built its market-leading virtual reality (VR) headset by infringing patents owned by it. The platform, filed in federal court in Waco, Texas, alleges that Meta’s virtual and augmented reality (AR) systems, including the Meta Quest 2, infringe six Immersion patents that cover various uses of haptic effects in relationship with such AR/VR systems. Immersion is seeking a court order blocking Meta’s use of the infringing technology and unspecified damages.
Immersion Corporation is the leading innovator in tactile feedback technology, also known as haptic technology. The company invents, accelerates and scales haptic experiences by providing technology solutions for mobile phones, automobiles, games and consumer electronics. In video game systems and controllers, haptics allow users to experience vibrations that mimic real-life forces, like blocking a punch in a virtual boxing game. Haptic technology creates immersive and realistic experiences.
Haptics enhance digital interactions by appealing to users’ sense of touch. On Thursday, Immersion announced that it had filed a complaint against Meta. According to the complaint, Meta infringed no less than six haptic technology patents owned by Immersion. Immersion and its employees have worked diligently for nearly 30 years to invent innovative haptic technologies that allow people to use their sense of touch to engage with products and experience the digital world around them. said Francis Jose, CEO and General Counsel of Immersion.
Our intellectual property is relevant to many of the most important and cutting-edge ways in which haptics technology is and can be deployed and, in the case of AR/VR experiences, haptics are crucial for an immersive user experience, added the CEO of Immersion. As a reminder, sales of the Meta Quest 2 reached 8.7 million units in 2021, twice as many as the previous year, and the company holds 80% of the market. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to spend $10 billion a year to realize his vision for a virtual reality metaverse.
In addition, Zuckerberg announced last week that the metaverse he seeks to build will incur “significant” short-term financial losses, especially in the first five years. The CEO explained that many of Meta’s products for an “immersive Internet”, where users would be immersed in a virtual world, are not likely to be viable for another 10 to 15 years. We want to make hardware as affordable as possible for everyone, and make sure the digital economy thrives,” Meta’s first representative told shareholders.
While we are glad to see that Meta recognizes the value of haptics and has adopted our haptics technology into their AR/VR systems as part of their multi-billion dollar effort to build the metaverse and drive revenue streams by the sale of hardware, games and other virtual assets, and advertisements, it is important for us to protect our business against infringement of our intellectual property in order to preserve the investments we have made in our technology, said José . He considers it important that Immersion’s know-how be recognized and respected.
“We need to ensure that our intellectual property is recognized as a key feature in the emerging AR, VR and metaverse market, even when litigation becomes necessary,” he added. Immersion seeks a court order blocking Meta’s use of the infringing technology and unspecified damages.
However, many consider that this complaint could be a way for Immersion to attract attention again. Indeed, Immersion is widely known for engaging in licensing disputes and has previously taken on some of the biggest tech companies in the world. The San Jose, Calif.-based company sued Microsoft in 2002, and Japanese giant Sony was dragged into the lawsuit. In 2016, the company sued Apple. Most of these complaints would always have been settled out of court. With the advent of metaverse and Web3.0, Meta seems to have become their next candidate.
They are competition trolls. I don’t really think it’s a serious threat to Meta, said one reviewer. The next generation of augmented and mixed reality devices are at the forefront of all R&D. Many small businesses have made remarkable innovations in this area. However, in the end, these fringe companies will only be gobbled up by the Silicon Goliaths unless someone like Immersion stands up against them like the shepherd David! All it takes is a slingshot to knock them down.
Source: Immersion press release
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