Digital video company Eko hit back against Quibi on Tuesday, accusing the upcoming mobile-only streaming app of infringing on its patented technology and misappropriating trade secrets. The Israeli company is essentially looking to bar Quibi, set to debut next month, from utilizing video technology that underpins how viewers watch its shows.
At the center of the Eko-Quibi battle is Turnstyle, a feature on Quibi’s app that will let viewers seamlessly shift between vertical and landscape video. Eko claims this is a case of “theft” and accuses Quibi of stealing its technology, years after Eko executives met with Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg.
The filing comes one day after Quibi sued Eko, arguing that it didn’t violate Eko’s patent.
“Because Quibi refuses to cooperate with Eko or voluntarily rectify its blatant and egregious violation of Eko’s intellectual property rights, Eko now seeks relief from this Court to enjoin Defendant from using Eko’s confidential and trade secret information,” the Tuesday lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Central California, said.
The lawsuit has also asked the court to acknowledge Quibi has infringed on Eko’s patented technology. “Because Eko’s remedy at law is inadequate, Eko seeks, in addition to damages, permanent injunctive relief to recover and protect its trade secrets and other legitimate business interests,” the lawsuit added.
Eko’s lawsuit, like Quibi’s a day earlier, acknowledges company executives met with Katzenberg in March 2017. (In Quibi’s lawsuit on Monday, the company claims Katzenberg “barely remembers” the meeting.) Soon after, Eko met with several Snapchat employees and shared more information on its video technology. Eko claims two of those Snapchat employees later shared trade secrets when they went to work for Quibi.
Quibi claimed on Monday it has not illegally stolen any Eko technology or trade secrets. Quibi’s lawsuit on Monday refuted those claims about the former Snapchat employees stealing information, arguing, “The employees referenced by Eko are not engineers or computer programmers, do not read source code, and would have had no reason to request or obtain Eko code. In any event, no Quibi employee brought or used any Eko trade secrets, computer code, or proprietary information.”
Quibi said it started working on its Turnstyle technology in late 2018; the technology, along with other aspects of Quibi’s app, were granted a patent last month. Eko’s technology was patented in October 2019, and the company’s lawsuit on Tuesday has asked the court to essentially transfer Quibi’s patent to Eko, arguing that Quibi’s patent is based on stolen technology. Eko also asked the court to prevent Quibi from “selling, offering for sale, marketing or using the Turnstyle feature.”
Quibi is set to launch on April 6. The service will cost $4.99 per month for ad-supported streaming and $7.99 for ad-free streaming. The app, being led by CEO Meg Whitman, will have more than 50 shows available at launch.