UPDATE, 6:36 PM: Quibi launched earlier this week with its much hyped Turnstyle feature, but Eko will get their day in court for a preliminary injunction over the motion flipping technology sooner rather than later, it seems.
“Based on a review of Plaintiff’s Ex Parte Application for Accelerated Hearing Date and Briefing Schedule and the opposition filed by Defendant, sufficient good cause has been shown for the relief requested by the Application,” U.S. District Court Judge John A. Kronstadt said in a curt order made public today (READ IT HERE).
With the Jeffrey Katzenberg founded mobile platform given until April 15 to reply with an opposition motion, the hearing is now presently set for May 4 in DTLA.
Of course, with the courts of all jurisdictions essentially shut down due to the coronavirus crisis, that date just over two weeks from now may been a hope rather than a reality – at least in person.
PREVIOUSLY, APRIL 1 PM: The multi-front legal battle between Quibi and Eko over motion flipping technology has just gone to DEFCON 2, kind of.
“Plaintiff JBF Interlude 2009 Ltd. – Israel seeks a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendant Quibi Holdings LLC from misappropriating Eko’s proprietary technology for mobile device optimized ‘Real Time Switching’,” says a filing made Wednesday in federal court on behalf of Eko, the tech company trying to hit the brakes on the launch of heavily hyped Quibi, the Jeffrey Katzenberg- and Meg Whitman-shepherded mobile streaming service that goes live in five days with a plethora of short-form programming.
“This trade secret technology, which is a critical part of Eko’s technology platform, had been shared with Quibi employees under multiple non-disclosure agreements,” Eko claims via its lawyers at Goodwin Procter, in language and desired outcomes echoing its March 10 lawsuit that came a day after Quibi first took Eko to court.
If that whirlwind doesn’t give you some corporate flop sweat, today’s obviously intentional jacking up of the stakes might in this time of the COVID-19 crisis.
“In reality, Eko owns the technology and promptly asked Quibi to cease and desist,” an accompanying flourish filled memorandum of points (read it here) from Eko’s parent company says of the slow-burn confrontation between the parties over the past few months. “In response, Quibi sent an untruthful letter and then filed a declaratory judgment action,” according to the 30-page paperwork submitted to U.S. District Court in California.
Then, even with the reality that preliminary injunctions commonly take several weeks at the best of times to get a response from the courts, the gloves really come off and get down in the dirt.
“When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Quibi exploited the ‘stay-at-home’ orders as a marketing tool to encourage people to sign up for its Turnstyle platform based on the misappropriated Eko technology,” the memo professes with terms previously not heard in this feud. “Quibi, having raised $2 billion, and under enormous pressure to deliver on the media hype it generated, was desperate to find a way to deliver content. Not having the technology to do so, it misappropriated Eko’s trade secrets, claiming them as its own.”
In point of fact, Quibi has raised $1.75 billion in its two rounds of funding, not $2 billion as Eko state in its document.
Reached for comment on today’s harsh and potentially untimely filing, reps for Katzenberg and Whitman’s platform mainly reiterated their bland statement from last month that “Quibi filed suit against Eko to enjoin them from continuing to make their claims” and “our Turnstyle technology was developed internally at Quibi by our talented engineers and we have, in fact, received a patent for it.” As they said after Eko filed a complaint with the Apple App store, which lite the fuse for Quibi’s own lawsuit March 9, the studio-backed platform noted also that “these claims have absolutely no merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them in court.”
On the other hand, Eko is heralding its case a likely winner already. “Eko is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim brought under the Defend Trade Secrets Act,” the motion (read it here) advocates for why Judge John A. Kronstadt should issue an injunction order ASAP. “Eko is suffering, and will continue to suffer, irreparable harm if a preliminary injunction is not issued.”
Even though they canceled their big April 5 red-carpet event last month due to concerns over coronavirus, Quibi is still set to debut April 6 with a relatively well stocked cellar of shows from creators and studios. Aimed to snag the YouTube generation’s attention and eventually wallets, the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen, Chance the Rapper, Liam Hemsworth, Sophie Turner, Lena Waithe, Nicole Richie and Reese Witherspoon are on board with 10-minute-bite series of dramas, comedies and unscripted offerings such as a Punk’d revival, Most Dangerous Game, Thanks a Million and Chrissy’s Court.
Reacting to the realities of a nearly 80% isolated America cramping the on-the-go premise of the service, the mainly mobile platform is now offering a 90-day free trial to those who sign up on its website before next week. Regular monthly pricing is set at $4.99 (with ads) and $7.99 (no ads). Having just secured another hefty funding round, Quibi plans to release 175 original shows and 8,500 episodes in its first year.