UPDATED: Linden Lab and Other Social VR Companies Sued Over Virtual Reality Patent

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Image by witwiccan on Pixabay

I was skimming through my Flipboard newsfeed on virtual reality over my morning coffee when I came across the following news item:

Second Life, VRChat, Others Sued Over Virtual Reality Patent

  • Virtual reality company says defendants infringed interactive theater patent
  • Company has sued 21 companies over patent

The makers of Second Life, VRChat, and other virtual reality games are facing claims that they infringed an interactive virtual theater patent.

Plaintiff Virtual Immersion Technologies Aug. 30 brought patent suits against seven companies, including Linden Research Inc., Sine Wave Entertainment Ltd., VRChat Inc., and Raytheon Co., Bloomberg Law data show.

The companies are infringing U.S. Patent 6,409,599, which allows people to interact in a real-time, virtual environment with live performers, according to Virtual Immersion’s nearly identical complaints filed…

A quick Google search on Virtual Immersion Technologies pulls up numerous lawsuits filed by the company against corporations such as Ford, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing. A 2017 lawsuit by the company against AltspaceVR led to the following spirited discussion over on the Vive subReddit:

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According to the Google dictionary, a “patent troll” is:

a company that obtains the rights to one or more patents in order to profit by means of licensing or litigation, rather than by producing its own goods or services.

At the time, Reuters reported:

A Texas-based company filed separate lawsuits on Wednesday against Boeing, Lockheed Martin and e-sports platform Sliver.tv, accusing them of infringing a patent on virtual reality technology.

The complaints filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware by Virtual Immersion Technologies of Georgetown, Texas are nearly identical to six others it filed in Texas last year against several other companies and one that it filed Tuesday in Delaware against Redwood City, California-based virtual reality startup AltspaceVR.

It would appear that Virtual Immersion Technologies is once again issuing patent infringement lawsuits against various players in the VR industry, including the companies behind Sansar, Sinespace, and VRChat. Unfortunately, fighting such lawsuits is a common part of the business landscape in America. Comedian John Oliver did a brilliant video on the problem:

UPDATE Sept. 28th: the EFF has weighed in on this patent.

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