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Though currently battling it out with Apple in court, Epic Games has still found the time to file a lawsuit against the AR glasses company Nreal, arguing that its name and branding is similar enough to Unreal Engine to warrant a copyright infringement case.
The lawsuit, which also accuses Nreal of false designation or origin and unfair competition, comes as the China-based company nears the first launch of one of its products, the Nreal Light, in the United States.
Epic notes in the filing that that it has various trademarks for Unreal relating to "software, videogames, virtual worlds, and 3D visualizations, animations, and platforms." Though it has yet to significantly dabble in AR, Epic says the overlap between the two is still enough for Nreal to benefit from confusing consumers.
"It is no coincidence that Nreal named its glasses after the industry-leading engine for creating immersive and interactive three-dimensional content," argues Epic. "The developer section of Nreal’s website lists Epic’s Unreal Engine as one of three development platforms to be available for developers to create content for Nreal’s glasses. Nreal was and is well aware of Epic and its UNREAL marks."
"Nreal does not just sell glasses, it has already developed and sold a game to be used with those glasses," continues the complaint. "Nreal is willfully trading off Epic’s rights, causing confusion, and acting with callous disregard for Epic’s prior rights."
In addition to seeking to block Nreal's trademark application, Epic Games has also asked the court to award it damages "for willful infringement and unfair competition" over the whole affair. It's not the first time Epic has come to legal blows with Nreal either; Epic opposed Nreal's trademark application back in 2018 over similar concerns, though the effort was initially paused while Epic and Nreal attempted to solve the dispute privately.
This also isn't the first lawsuit Nreal has faced in this space. Back in 2019, Magic Leap filed a lawsuit against its former employee and Nreal founder Chi Xu, alleging that he used proprietary Magic Leap technology to bring Nreal's own AR wearable to the market in record time. That case was dismissed last year, seemingly due to a lack of factual support for Magic Leap's allegations.
[Update: In a statement sent to Gamasutra, Nreal pushes back against the allegations made by Epic, arguing that the lawsuit lacks merit.
"Nreal is an innovative and growing startup that is setting a new standard for augmented reality. Recognized as a ground-breaking company among both consumers and developers, Nreal has developed a reputation as the leading hardware manufacturer of mixed reality and augmented reality glasses currently sold in Asia and Europe. We're aware of the litigation that has been filed by Epic. We respect intellectual property rights, but we believe that this lawsuit lacks merit and plan to defend vigorously against the claims brought by Epic."]