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Facebook-Owned Virtual Reality System Faces Lawsuit

05/22/2015 | 05:51pm US/Eastern
By Deepa Seetharaman 

A Hawaii company has sued Oculus VR, saying the founder of the Facebook Inc.-owned virtual-reality system misappropriated confidential information and proprietary technology.

Total Recall Technologies filed the lawsuit U.S. District Court in Northern California Wednesday, saying it hired Oculus founder Palmer Luckey in 2011 to build a prototype for a head-mounted display. Mr. Luckey then used the information to create the Oculus Rift headset, according to the complaint.

An Oculus spokeswoman declined to comment.

In the suit, Total Recall Technologies said it paid an unspecified amount for the prototype's parts and secured exclusive rights to Mr. Luckey's design. Mr. Luckey and Total Recall Technologies partner Thomas Seidl sent notes to Mr. Luckey in late 2011 and 2012 on how to improve the headset's design, the suit says.

But Total Recall Technologies said Mr. Luckey then launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 to promote his own head-mounted display, called Oculus Rift, and started his own company, breaching his contract with his previous employer.

Total Recall Technologies is seeking damages, but didn't specify the amount.

The lawsuit was previously reported by The Recorder, a California legal newspaper.

The virtual-reality headset can be used to play videogames, watch movies or double as a computer monitor. Facebook has said it plans to ship a consumer version of the headset in the first quarter of 2016.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg personally negotiated the $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR in March 2014 and has said that virtual-reality technology will transform the way people interact online.

This is the second attempt by a company to lay claim on some aspect of Oculus VR's technology. Last year, ZeniMax Media Inc., a Maryland-based maker of videogames, sued Mr. Luckey, Oculus and Facebook, claiming it developed the intellectual property that powers the Oculus Rift headset and helped jump-start the company's rapid growth. That lawsuit is ongoing.

Write to Deepa Seetharaman at Deepa.Seetharaman@wsj.com

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