Virtual Legality Blog

Recent Blog Posts

  • In January 2017, Milwaukee County started requiring makers of location-based augmented reality games to apply for a permit before placing points of interest in Milwaukee parks. Luckily, in July, this regulation was ruled as unconstitutional by the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Unluckily, the court’s reasoning left open plenty of room for a second ordinance. You can find a copy of the court’s order here. Milwaukee required app developers to provide on-site security, on-site medical services, and detailed plans for garbage collection. Beyond... More
  • ZeniMax was recently awarded a $500 million judgment for Oculus’s breach of a non-disclosure agreement in addition to Oculus’s infringement of ZeniMax’s copyrights and trademarks. ZeniMax then moved for a permanent injunction, which would stop all sales of the Oculus Rift. The arguments regarding the injunction have been filed mostly unsealed, allowing us to dig into the substance of either side’s arguments or positions. You can find a copy of ZeniMax’s Motion for Entry of Permanent Injunction here, and Oculus’s Response... More
  • After first donning a virtual reality headset, a common reaction is rampant speculation. What use could this technology have beyond mere entertainment? One of the fields many are experimenting with is medical. Medical uses for virtual reality fall into two broad categories: 1. as a training aid or visualizer prior to an invasive procedure; and 2. as a treatment or therapy device for a patient. Medical use cases of VR are analogous to use cases of 3D printing. For example, some surgeons... More
  • A patent application owned by Oculus for “Optical Hand Tracking in Virtual Reality Systems” was published earlier this month. I have provided a link to the patent application here. First, here’s a quick brief on the mode of operation for the Oculus System. The Oculus Rift headset has a number of infrared LEDs placed on the exterior surface. Multiple cameras are aimed at the play area, looking for that LED output. By placing the cameras in different locations, the exact position... More
  • Virtual Reality is often thought of as a groundbreaking and new technology, but it is actually the result of a sporadic course of development dating to at least the 1950s. I have written earlier about a patent from 1957 which discloses a Head Mounted Display (HMD) which closely resembles modern HMDs. Moving forward in time from 1950 to 1990, the BBC aired a segment on virtual reality in the show Tomorrow’s World. Unfortunately, the segment does not attribute any particular entity... More
  • Earlier this year, ZeniMax won a judgment for $500 million against Oculus Rift and other related parties. After winning that judgment, ZeniMax motioned for an injunction preventing the sale of the Oculus Rift. As always, there are a number of misconceptions about what ZeniMax is arguing and their likelihood of success. News articles regarding high stakes litigation often become echo chambers and lose focus on the actual issues of the case. You can read a copy of ZeniMax’s memorandum in support... More
  • Every month or so, I will be covering a newly published patent application for virtual reality. My methodology is simple: search for patents containing the phrase “virtual reality,” and sort by newest. Keep in mind that patent applications typically publish 18 months from the earliest claimed priority date. First up is an application for using an augmented reality display to determine a user’s eye prescription by none other than the company Magic Leap. Magic Leap is a very well-capitalized, mixed-reality startup,... More
  • Last week, Zenimax was awarded a $500 million judgment against Oculus. While the virtual reality industry may have been flying under the radar, after this recent court case many lawyers have started to take notice. For busy attorneys now delving into the VR industry – what is it? VR is experienced through a “headset” that shows each eye a slightly different image. Just like a 3D IMAX movie, the user experiences the depth of an object. The concept is similar to... More
  • Patent trolls (also called non-practicing entities) seem likely to make an inroad into VR, given the rapid pace of technological progress and current case law interpreting 35 U.S.C. 101 (patent eligible subject matter). The Oculus DK1 was the first HMD to bring VR to the mainstream, released to Kickstarter backers around 2013. ~3.5 years later, many major technology companies are pushing for their own share of the VR market. The VR industry is fast changing, and almost every month some kind... More
  • In a fast changing market, even a couple of weeks can seem like an eternity. Consumer products may have an effective life span of a year or less before a new version comes out to replace the old version. While this is a sign of a healthy market, the speed can certainly cause some strains in other areas, including patent protection. The average pendency at the USPTO for a utility patent application to become a granted patent is about two years.... More