AR Company Meta Sues Former Employee for Theft

AR firm Meta has filed a lawsuit against former employee Zhangyi Zhong, “Augmented Reality” company “DreamWorld USA.” They claim that Zhong leveraged his employment with Meta, as its former head of optics, in order to gain an in-depth understanding of how Meta did business in order to apply that knowledge toward founding his own tech company. Zhong was employed by Meta for 16 months before stepping down in July 2016. DreamWorld announced “DreamGlass,” its first product, in May 2017. DreamWorld’s AR headset is expected to cost less than $350, placing it well below the $949 price tag of last year’s “Meta 2.”

 

Meta claims that Zhong was able to price DreamGlass so cheaply because he was heavily involved in Meta 2’s development, freely able to pore over the company’s tomes of research material into augmented reality and analyze Meta’s relationship with various manufacturing companies. Meta alleges Zhong quit without advance warning, claiming to suffer from a manufactured medical issue, founded DreamWorld under an alias and had someone run the new company, likely believed to be Zhong’s significant other. The end result is a company that could quickly produce something that was the direct result of another company’s years of research and development.

 

Meta’s worries grew upon the publication of an article on DreamGlass, an optical system that had an aggressive price and release date. The article claimed that while the DreamGlass was mostly more superior to the Meta 2, its tracking seemed vastly inferior; Meta tethers to a PC, while DreamGlass tethers to an Android device. Meta’s lawsuit claims that because his expertise is in optical engineering, Zhong had no technical skill in regard to the headset.

 

In a cutthroat industry like AR, the Meta 2 is among its leaders; Meta feels DreamWorld is disingenuous in presenting DreamGlass as an innovative new product, rather than an iterative one. The charges levied against the defendants include misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract and fraudulent business.