Epic Games sues AR company Nreal for trademark violation

Nreal Light AR glasses
(Image credit: Nreal)

Epic Games has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Nreal, saying (you may have already figured this out) that its use of the name Nreal Light for its upcoming mixed reality glasses comes a little too close for comfort to its multiple "Unreal" trademarks.

The problem isn't just the similarity of the names, which is obvious, but the alleged overlap between Epic's and Nreal's products: The lawsuit claims, for instance, that Nreal has already developed a game for its Nreal Light, and that its website lists the Unreal Engine as one of three development platforms for Nreal glasses.

"Nreal’s use of NREAL, a trademark that looks and sounds virtually identical to Epic’s UNREAL trademark, in connection with products that overlap with Epic’s UNREAL-branded products and services is likely to confuse consumers," the suit states. "Not only has Nreal aimed its first product at a segment into which Epic has already entered, Nreal’s plans include further encroachment on Epic’s rights."

The suit states that Nreal's trademark filing indicates that it intends to use the trademark not just for its AR glasses, but for "[d]esign and development of computer game software and virtual reality software," which would make it a direct competitor to the Unreal Engine. It's also targeting the same industries as Epic, including "gaming, entertainment, retail, medical, office environments, industry, and other market segments."

Nreal filed its trademark application in January 2018, which Epic officially opposed in December of that year "due to the likelihood of confusion" between the two trademarks. Since then, the two companies have attempted to negotiate a solution, but haven't been able to work anything out. The matter became more pressing in August 2020, when Nreal began selling its Nreal Light in Japan and Germany, and announced that a launch in the US would happen later this year, with backing from some pretty serious corporate partners.

"If permitted to continue, Nreal's use of the Infringing Marks will damage and irreparably injure Epic, the UNREAL Marks, and Epic’s reputation and goodwill associated with the UNREAL Marks," the suit states. "Nreal should not be permitted to reap the benefits of Epic’s extensive efforts to build a valuable brand in its UNREAL Marks or, with funding from the substantial marketing budgets of its significant business partners(Samsung, LG, and Deutsche Telecom), swamp the ability of Epic to expand its offerings under the UNREAL Marks without being associated with Nreal."

Epic is seeking an order directing Nreal to withdraw its trademark application, plus damages, legal fees, and restitution. 

"We're aware of the litigation that has been filed by Epic," an Nreal spokesperson said in a statement. "We respect intellectual property rights, but we believe that this lawsuit lacks merit and plan to defend vigorously against the claims brought by Epic."

Nreal also recently tweeted that "something you've all been waiting for" will be revealed on May 20.

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Thanks, The Verge.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.