The legal drama surrounding Chinese startup Nreal and Magic Leap continues, and now we finally have an update.
For months, Magic Leap’s legal team attempted to contact Nreal and its founder, Chi Xu, with little success. But that all changed a few weeks ago.
Back in June, we reported that Magic Leap lobbed a long list of allegations against Xu and his company Nreal. In short, Magic Leap believes that Xu, who worked at Magic Leap prior to the release of the Magic Leap One, stole the company’s ideas, designs, and even its company font to help produce the Nreal Light and its branding.
When Next Reality asked Nreal for a response to the allegations, the company denied Magic Leap’s claims.
“We have heard about the recent media reports regarding Nreal and Magic Leap,” an Nreal spokesperson told Next Reality, back in June. “Nreal believes that the accusations are false and anti-competitive in nature. Without additional information we’re not able to provide further comment.”
However, at that time, Magic Leap still hadn’t obtained confirmation that Nreal had even received the formal legal documents notifying Xu about the details of the lawsuit. Well, it turns out that actually finding Xu was part of the problem.
According to legal documents filed by Magic Leap in September, it was so difficult to find Xu that the company had to hire private investigators to track Xu down at addresses listed in San Jose, California, and Seattle, Washington.
At the Seattle address, the leasing agent had no record of Xu, and at the San Jose address Magic Leap’s private investigators discovered that “a different tenant who was not familiar with Xu lived at the San Jose address (though she received mail for Chi Xu, which she turned into the main office at that address).”
What’s clear in the legal filing is that Magic Leap kept a close eye on Nreal’s public dealings while attempting to contact the company, including monitoring the company’s Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn pages (and attempting contact through those means) and noting Xu’s appearances at AWE conference events. The attempts to reach the company through such public means seems to have come after attempts to contact Xu and Nreal via email and standard mail came up empty.
Finally, on September 12, Magic Leap received a communication from Diana Rutowski, who is now apparently working as the defense attorney for Nreal in the US, via phone call to discuss the case.
Silicon Valley insiders may be interested to know that the judge presiding over the case is United States District Judge Lucy H. Koh, the judge who worked on the Apple v. Samsung patent trial years ago in which she famously admonished an Apple attorney by saying “unless you’re smoking crack, you know these witnesses aren’t going to be called when you have less than four hours.” So while the Magic Leap v. Nreal case might not rise to such colorful levels, it’s sure to be high-profile.
An initial meeting between Magic Leap, Nreal and the court to discuss the general parameters of the case was due to occur in two weeks, on Oct. 30, but that date has now been changed to January 2020.
What that means is that while Magic Leap still has a strong shot at getting its grievances aired in the legal arena, Nreal just bought another couple of quarters to make its case with the most important court on the planet, the consumers.