Facebook Receives Patent Complaint Over Oculus VR Technology

Three companies, Gentex Corporation, Indigo Technologies LLC, and Thales Visionix Inc., an involuntary plaintiff, have sued Facebook Inc. and Facebook Technologies LLC (together Facebook) for their purported unauthorized and knowing use of the plaintiffs’ patented virtual reality (VR) and motion tracking technologies. According to Wednesday’s Western District of Texas complaint, the technologies are used in four of Facebook’s Oculus VR products.

The filing explains that Gentex is the exclusive field-of-use licensee of the five asserted entertainment and gaming patents, that Indigo assigned its rights under its exclusive field-of-use license to Gentex on July 1, 2021, and that Thales Visionix, Inc. is the sole and exclusive owner of the patents-in-suit.

Several of the five asserted patents recite among other things, “specifically configured head-mounted tracking systems and methods of use that are advantageously sourceless—that is, they can be used anywhere with no set-up of an external source that is not on the user’s body, making the systems more accessible, intuitive, and easy-to-use.” Another improves tracking by using two points on an object to coordinate tracking and yet another by “applying sensor configuration information to update the estimated position and orientation of an object.”

According to the complaint, Facebook entered the VR devices market with its acquisition of Oculus VR Inc., announced in March 2014. Allegedly, its second and third VR products and subsequent models feature a standalone headset that offers tracking on both sides of the head and hands, or “sourceless tracking.” In January 2021, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his belief that Facebook’s newest model, the Oculus Quest 2 is “‘on track to be the first mainstream virtual reality headset,’” the complaint said.

The filing asserts that Facebook had actual and constructive knowledge of the asserted patents prior to, during, and after the acquisition of Oculus. The plaintiffs note that Gentex and Indigo contacted Facebook about possible licensure in July 2020 and again in January 2021 regarding the alleged infringement. Facebook reportedly took months to investigate their concerns, but has to date neither agreed to a licensing agreement nor has stopped its purported infringing activity.

The filing seeks a jury trial, declaratory relief, damages, including enhanced damages for wilfull infringement, and an award of the plaintiffs’ fees and costs. The plaintiffs are presented by Mann | Tindel | Thompson and Williams & Connolly LLP.