Coca-Cola is at the centre of a patent infringement suit filed by Texas-based company Virtual Immersion Technologies (VIT).
The complaint, filed Friday, March 1 at the US District Court for the District of Delaware, alleged that Coca-Cola’s virtual reality systems infringe a patent owned by VIT (US number 6,409,599).
The ‘599 patent relates to a system in which participants interact with a computerised environment in addition to live and/or pre-recorded performers using a variety of immersion and input devices.
According to VIT’s filing, Coca-Cola directly infringes claims 1,2,8 and 9 of the ‘599 patent by making, using, selling and importing an interactive virtual reality system.
VIT said Coca-Cola gains increased indirect profit from the infringement. One example of infringement given is Coca-Cola’s use of augmented reality for bottling equipment maintenance.
VIT said Coca-Cola infringes claims 8 and 9 of its patent through its virtual reality system. The claims cover a system which connects a live performer (in this case, a technician wearing AR glasses) with a participant (an expert watching a computer screen).
“Coca-Cola utilises the system to reduce costs in maintaining its supply chain. It saves $10,000 per service call and dramatically speeds uptime status by using remote experts and immersive glasses,” VIT said in its filing.
It also said that Coca Cola has induced others to infringe claims of the patent by offering a service to maintenance workers and engineers of Coca Cola equipment who use the virtual reality system.
Coca Cola is not the only company that VIT has sued.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as of September 2018, VIT had filed 21 patent lawsuits regarding the ‘599 patent, targeting a variety of companies from small startups to large corporations like Coca-Cola.