Virtual Immersion Technologies Sues Six Companies, Including Toyota and BAE Systems

Virtual Immersion Technologies sued Toyota Motor Corporation, BAE Systems PLC, Skanska AB, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Merck and Co. for patent infringement on Monday in the Western District of Texas. Specifically, Virtual Immersion Technologies (VIT) sued defendants for allegedly infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,409,599 (the ’599 patent), entitled “Interactive Virtual Reality Performance Theater Entertainment System.”

VIT stated that the ’599 patent “relates to a system and practice method in which participants interact with a computerized environment in addition to live and/or pre-recorded performers.” The patent-in-suit “describes and enables immersive interactive virtual reality computer systems in which participants interact with a virtual reality environment and live performers using a variety of immersion and input devices.” Virtual Immersion Technologies asserted that the defendants have infringed on the patent through the use of interaction between people, live performers, and virtual reality (VR).

For example, claim 9 of the patent “is a method claim, which clearly requires providing several input/output devices in electronic communication with an immersive virtual reality environment.” VIT alleged that “Toyota employees and customers utilize an interactive virtual reality system that allows collaboration for design reviews for new vehicles and manufacturing line, well before physical products have been created.”

Toyota’s service allegedly comprises “[m]ultiple virtual environments containing vehicles and assembly lines.” In the environment, performers are “[v]arious members of Toyota and its subsidiaries as avatars and/or a fully motion captured ‘performer’ enacting a variety of processes [and] lead[ing] a design review.” The participants are the “[o]ne or more Toyota employees, contractors or customers [who] engage locally or remotely to learn from or provide feedback to the simulation organizer/leader.” This allows for interaction between the environment, performer, and participants. The immersive virtual reality environment consists of Toyota model vehicles or facility designs. A performer can “utilize more extensive body motion-capture systems and controls to simulate interactions with new facility simulations…The meeting leaders or lead engineers interact with other participants and the VR environment using high-end VR glasses…with motion sensors and microphones.” A participant can access the environment and interact with the environment and others using a variety of input sensors, such as VR glasses, hand and motion sensors, keyboard and mouse, cameras, microphone, and other tools. The performer can interact with other performers or customers in the environment for design reviews. The leaders show up as avatars in VR and their heads and hands are seen by participants, both participants and performers can allegedly speak, listen, and interact with each other.

As a result of Toyota’s described use of this patented technology, the plaintiff claims that Toyota has infringed the patent-in-suit.

The other defendants have also allegedly infringed the ’599 patent through the interaction of participants, live performers, and a virtual reality environment.

Virtual Immersion Technologies has sought an adjudication, an award for damages, to declare this case exceptional, and any other relief as determined by the court.

The plaintiff is represented by Devlin Law Firm LLC.