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Secretive Magic Leap Says Ex-Engineer Copied Headset For China

Magic Leap, a secretive U.S. startup that makes a $2,295 augmented-reality headset, filed a lawsuit Monday accusing one of its former engineers of stealing its technology to create his own AR device for China. Bloomberg reports: In a lawsuit filed Monday, Magic Leap alleges that Chi Xu, who left in 2016, exploited its confidential information to “quickly develop a prototype of lightweight, ergonomically designed, mixed reality glasses for use with smart phones and other devices that are strikingly similar” to the Florida-based startup’s designs. The lawsuit marks the latest accusation from an American firm of intellectual property theft by Chinese companies, a perennial sore point that’s helped escalate tensions between the world’s two largest economies. With more than $2 billion in financing, Magic Leap is one of the better-funded startups delving into so-called augmented or mixed reality, a technology that gives users the illusion that fantastical, three-dimensional digital objects exist in the physical world.

Xu, who founded Beijing-based Hangzhou Tairuo Technology Co., also known as Nreal, unveiled his own augmented reality glasses at a major Las Vegas trade show in January, touting them as lighter than the Magic Leap One, Forbes has reported. Magic Leap released its headset last August after seven years of secretive work and more than $2 billion of investment. The startup alleges that Xu plotted during his roughly 13 months working there to launch his own competing company in China and “neglected his work duties” to acquire proprietary information. Xu is accused in the suit of breach of contract, fraud and unfair competition.


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