Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but that doesn't mean companies take kindly to others infringing on their intellectual property (IP) or otherwise ripping off their products. Whether Lenovo did that to Sony with its Mirage Solo VR headset, which looks strikingly similar to the PlayStation VR, is now moot. Why? Sony and Lenovo signed a two-year patent licensing agreement that renders it so.
Lenovo Mirage Solo
"We are pleased to announce that we have licensed the PS VR headset design to Lenovo," said Riley Russell, Chief Legal Officer at SIE. "The industrial design for PS VR has been widely acclaimed, and that was the result of years of hard work by PlayStation engineers. This agreement with Lenovo is a testament to the quality of PS VR’s design, as well as SIE’s commitment to creating great virtual reality experiences and helping the VR industry expand."
It's not clear if a lawsuit was ever pending, or if the two companies just settled things in a relatively quiet manner, save for announcing the licensing agreement. Either way, it's good that the two have come to a resolution. The last thing VR needs is a dispute that could ultimately slow adoption. Lenovo sort of alluded to this in a statement of its own.
PlayStation VR (PSVR) Headset
"Lenovo is pleased to partner with Sony," said Yao Li, vice president of Lenovo Consumer Tablets and Smart Devices Product and Business Management. "The preeminence of the PS VR design is obvious. This agreement will allow us to work together to greatly enhance the design sophistication and appeal of the rapidly expanding VR field, and is an outstanding example of how great consumer brands in the VR industry can work together to benefit the consumer VR market."
Lenovo introduced its Mirage Solo headset at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this year. It was pitched as the world's first standalone Daydream VR headset, which should have drawn the lion's share of attention. However, it also made waves for looking a lot like the PSVR. While not a carbon copy, it was clear that Lenovo borrowed Sony's design for the headband, and how it affects the weight distribution.
It's not clear exactly what the licensing agreement entails, such as just the Mirage Solo or future headsets as well, or what financial terms were agreed upon.
VR is still in its infancy, as it pertains to the modern movement. Sony has seen a bit of success with its efforts, having announced this past summer that it sold over 3 million PSVR headsets to gamers. In addition, Sony said it moved 21.9 million PSVR games and experiences.