A technology that Quibi has been touting ahead of its April launch that will allow users to watch content on the short-form site in either portrait or landscape mode is at the center of a legal fight with tech company Eko, which is claiming the tech is theirs.
Quibi on Monday filed a 15-page complaint in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles calling for a declaration that it did not infringe Eko’s technology\ and demands Eko withdraw a notice of complaint of infringement it filed last week to Apple’s app store, as well as deny any request for injunctive relief. The Jeffrey Katzenberg-led mobile video site also seeks legal fees and “any other relief the court deems just ahead of what Quibi’s lawyers call “Quibi’s highly anticipated launch.”
“Unfortunately, with the advertised launch of a high-profile new service, Quibi has already been targeted by a company looking to make a name for itself and to capitalize on Quibi’s early acclaim by making demonstrably false claims of intellectual property infringement,” said the complaint (read it here). “Our patented technology features a web-based authoring tool, player, and analytics dashboards, enabling the creation, distribution, measurement, and monetization of interactive video.
Eko alleged that Quibi has infringed upon its patent and stole trade secrets. It said in a statement that Quibi’s declaratory judgment motion is “nothing more than a PR stunt” after it learned a story about Eko’s claims was being published today in the Wall Street Journal.
Eko said it filed for a patent for its horizontal-to-vertical video technology in 2015 and that Quibi did not file for a patent covering the same technology until May 2019, which Eko said came after “a confidential demo by Eko of the technology to key Quibi top executives, including some of Quibi’s so-called patent inventors and Quibi chairman and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg.”
‘Eko was stunned to learn that the Quibi technology is a near-identical copy of its own, from the patented smart video response system down to the way files are created, formatted and stored,” Eko said Monday. “Eko will take the legal actions necessary to defend its intellectual property and looks forward to demonstrating its patent rights to the court.”
So far, Eko has not filed a lawsuit, and Quibi said it filed its suit today “to enjoin them from improperly tarnishing Quibi’s brand.”
“Our Turnstyle technology was developed internally at Quibi by our talented engineers, and we have, in fact, received a patent for it,” Quibi said in a statement. “These claims have absolutely no merit, and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them in court.”
Quibi has been ramping up for its April 6 launch, with a lineup of 51 shows to be available at launch from creators including Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen, Chance the Rapper, Liam Hemsworth, Sophie Turner, Lena Waithe, Nicole Richie and Reese Witherspoon and shows including Survive, Most Dangerous Game, Thanks a Million, Chrissy’s Court, Murder House Flip, Last Night’s Late Night, The Replay by ESPN and others.
The platform is offering a 90-day free trial to those who sign up on its website before April 6. Regular monthly pricing is set at $4.99 (with ads) and $7.99 (no ads). The service plans to release 175 original shows and 8,500 episodes in its first year.