Cooley Team Secures Major Victory for Facebook and Palmer Luckey in Inventorship Dispute

Exceptional work earns team Litigators of the Week distinction as part of Litigation Daily feature in The American Lawyer

San Francisco – October 22, 2021 – Cooley secured an across-the-board victory on behalf of Facebook and Palmer Luckey, co-founder of Oculus and inventor of the Rift virtual reality set, in an inventorship dispute over the Rift. In winning the case for Luckey and Facebook, the Cooley team protected an iconic inventor who sparked a VR industry revolution from his garage, along with Facebook, whose vision and investment has propelled the industry forward. Partners Mike Rhodes, Mark Lambert and Kristine Forderer led the Cooley team advising Facebook and Luckey alongside co-counsel from Mayer Brown.

Oculus was acquired by Facebook in 2014 and is now a part of a Facebook subsidiary, Facebook Technologies. Total Recall Technologies filed the lawsuit in 2015, alleging that Luckey breached a contract he entered with TRT and committed constructive fraud in creating the Rift and founding Oculus. TRT sought in excess of $400 million, plus punitive damages, claiming that the Rift was subject to its contract with Luckey, and that its dealings with Luckey gave it exclusive claims to the Rift and substantially all of Luckey’s stake in the Oculus business and the Facebook acquisition.

Facebook and Luckey twice won the case on motion for summary judgment on a novel procedural issue and twice the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed. On remand, US District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California denied Facebook and Luckey’s motion for summary judgment on the merits earlier this year, driving the case toward a recent trial on all of TRT’s claims.

The socially distanced jury heard the case for a week and a half. Ultimately, the jury took only a few hours to deliberate, returning an across-the-board defense verdict in Luckey’s favor. And though TRT tried to implicate Oculus and its successor, Facebook, those efforts were thwarted by the defendants’ motion for judgment as a matter of law, which Judge Alsup granted before sending the case to the jury.

The major win earned Rhodes, Lambert and Forderer the title of Litigators of the Week in The American Lawyer’s weekly Litigation Daily column.

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Related Contacts
Michael Rhodes  Partner San Francisco
Mark Lambert  Partner Palo Alto
Kristine Forderer  Partner San Francisco
Ellie Winter Barczak  Associate San Francisco
Alex Kasner  Associate Washington, DC, Palo Alto
Jessie Simpson LaGoy  Associate Palo Alto