On Wednesday, a California court dismissed an intellectual property (IP) theft lawsuit against Chinese mixed reality company Nreal filed by a former employer of its founder, according to court documents sent by Nreal to TechNode. US-based rival Magic Leap accused Nreal founder Xu Chi of stealing MR glasses technology while working there.

Why it matters: The Nreal-Magic Leap lawsuit is the latest in a series of IP theft accusations against Chinese-born former employees of American companies.

  • Magic Leap is backed by Alibaba and Google. It built the contested product, a set of mixed reality glasses, in seven years, using $2 billion in investment.

From the beginning we’ve firmly stated that Magic Leap’s claims against Nreal are meritless. The fact that the court found that Magic Leap failed to state a single viable claim is telling.

Xu Chi, Nreal CEO and founder, in an emailed statement to TechNode

Details: In granting the motion to dismiss, the court found that Magic Leap’s case against Nreal failed to explain how the alleged IP theft happened.

  • Nreal filed a motion to dismiss in December 2019. It said that the allegation was “vague and unsubstantiated.”
  • The Florida-based AR maker is “filing lawsuits to slow down new entrants in the AR market,” Nreal added in a statement at the time.
  • The court ruled that Magic Leap’s allegation that Nreal founder Xu Chi breached confidentiality agreements had “no factual support.”

Context: Chinese companies whose products look similar to US-developed counterparts are often faced with accusations of theft—especially if they share staff. But “inspired by” products aren’t necessarily illegal.

  • Tesla was recently rebuffed in a bid to use a copycat case against an individual Xpeng engineer as warrant for a wide-ranging review of the Chinese EV company’s internal data.
  • Beijing-based Seengene has also developed MR glasses that look a lot like Google Glass, but have integrated 3D visualization and navigation technology to set them apart.

READ MORE: For Chinese startup Seengene, the future is grounded in mixed reality

Eliza Gkritsi

Eliza is TechNode's community listening reporter at the Shanghai office. She acts as a link between the editorial team and TechNode Squared members. She previously worked as a reporter for WikiTribune...