A fight for augmented reality branding that we thought was over has suddenly turned into a full-blown legal battle – again.
The Warriors? Unreal Engine maker Epic Games versus the Chinese startup known as Nreal (aka Shenzhen Tairuo, formerly known as Hangzhou Tairuo, and parent company called Beijing Unicorn Technology). Commitment? Who can use the name “real” in reference to augmented reality products.
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Next Reality was the first to report on this fight in 2019, when Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Nreal to prevent it from using the Nreal name.
Nreal’s response – while legally logical in terms of strategy – bordered on the ridiculous. Nreal’s legal team responded to Epic by saying, “Opposer’s Epic Games brands are not well known or famous. The ‘UNREAL’ element in Opposer’s marks is commercially weak and watered down, and therefore Opposer is not entitled to exclusive use of the term.”
That all happened in January 2019. Then, in November of the same year, the two companies started settlement talks and it looked like things could end amicably.
Well, a pandemic year later, and in the midst of an AR market that is rapidly heating up, it looks like those settlement talks have ended and the lawsuit is back on track. On Monday, The edge reported that Epic Games has filed new legal proceedings to prevent Nreal from using the name it claims will cause consumer confusion in the AR space.
In the new lawsuit, Epic refers directly to the failed settlement discussions: “Despite ongoing discussions about Epic’s concerns that Nreal’s use of NREAL will cause consumer confusion, Nreal has continued its efforts to use NREAL in connection with its products. have been fruitless, and Epic has no choice but to file this lawsuit, ”states the lawsuit filed last week.
“Epic is filing this lawsuit to prevent newcomer Nreal from trading on Epic’s leading reputation in the developer community and the extensive family of UNREAL trademarks,” the statement continued. Epic is seeking the assistance of this Court in obtaining a court order to protect all consumers from deception. Epic is also seeking damages to compensate Epic for the damage it has suffered, suffers and will continue to suffer as a result of Nreal’s offense. “
While Nreal’s AR smartglasses are on sale in parts of Asia and Europe, the device doesn’t appear to be officially available to general consumers in the US. Epic’s new lawsuit could pose a significant hurdle for Nreal to ultimately realize its US retail ambitions.