Quibi, the mobile-only streaming platform which has full backing from every major Hollywood studio and tons of big-name filmmakers and performers signed on to star in shows and movies, is supposed to launch next Monday, April 6, 2020. But a company called Eko is alleging that Quibi’s “Turnstyle” technology, which allows for seamless video transitions when switching between landscape and portrait mode, is actually stolen technology, and demanding that a judge stop Quibi’s launch until the situation is resolved.
Could This Quibi Lawsuit Bring Down the Company Before It Even Launches?
Before we get into today’s filings, here’s a bit of background. You probably know all about Quibi, who’s trying to carve out its own slice of the streaming market with exclusive short-form content. But I doubt you’ve heard of Eko, a tech startup that issued a complaint against Quibi to Apple’s app store in early March. Eko believes Quibi stole the technology for Turnstyle mode. According to Eko, Quibi only applied for a patent for a version of the technology after Eko made a confidential demo of the tech to key Quibi executives, including Quibi co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg.
The two companies were already locked in a legal battle. Quibi sued Eko on March 9 to stop them from “improperly tarnishing Quibi’s brand” in the lead-up to Quibi’s launch, and Eko filed its own lawsuit the very next day. Today, Eko again filed paperwork in federal court asking for Quibi to be shut down in order for Eko’s trade secrets to be preserved. “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,” the filing reads (via Deadline), claiming that Quibi “secretly misappropriated Eko’s proprietary technology.”
“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,” Eko’s reps said in the filing. “Not having the technology to do so, it misappropriated Eko’s trade secrets, claiming them as its own.”
I’m not a lawyer, and the American legal system seems purposefully designed to confuse laymen as much as possible, so it’s unclear to me how today’s filing is any different than the lawsuit that was already put in motion last month. But regardless, Quibi does not seem the least bit concerned about any of this. “Our Turnstyle technology was developed internally at Quibi by our talented engineers and we have, in fact, received a patent for it,” they said in a statement, promising that “these claims have absolutely no merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them in court.”
Is this a case where an unknown startup is trying to make a name for itself, or a genuine case of corporate IP theft? I guess the courts will decide – but they’ll have to act extremely quickly if they’re going to make a ruling before Quibi launches on Monday. Assuming this falls in Quibi’s favor, here’s everything that’s coming to the new platform this month.
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