A US District Judge has ruled that a lawsuit against Oculus VR and its founder Palmer Luckey by Luckey's former employer may go ahead, at least in part.
Luckey struck lucky with his pitch for an affordable, high-quality virtual reality headset on crowd-funding site Kickstarter. Between the funds raised from eager buyers and private investment, Luckey was able to develop the Oculus Rift Developer Kit 1 (DK1) headset and begin work on a higher-quality successor. The release of the DK2 and development of retail-ready ultra-quality hardware caught the attention of more investors, culminating in the acquisition of Luckey's company by Facebook in a $2 billion deal and the impending launch of the first - and now, sadly, substantially less affordable - Oculus Rift retail hardware.
All is not well in the Oculus camp at present, though, as the company fights off lawsuits claiming the technology to drive the device has been misappropriated. Zenimax, the media giant behind id Software and Bethesda Game Studios, has claimed that Oculus VR has used Zenimax technology
provided by former id Software luminary and current Oculus VR employee John Carmack, seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages.
Of even greater concern is a suit brought against the company by Total Recall Technologies, which hired Luckey in 2011 - prior to the launch of the Oculus Rift Kickstarter campaign - in order to build a prototype head-mounted display. Technologies developed during that employment, the company has claimed in its filing, were used to develop the Oculus Rift.
According to newswire service Reuters
, US District Judge William Alsup agrees that there could be a case to answer: in a ruling passed down this week, Alsup told Total Recall to proceed with a claim of breach of contract against Luckey but struck down stronger claims, including fraud. Luckey has, naturally, denied Total Recall's claims.