Quibi, a mobile streaming service for short-form video, filed suit Monday against Eko, an interactive video company, after Eko accused the startup of infringement. Quibi, which is set to launch next month, includes a Turnstyle feature that uses a phone's orientation to determine whether to display a video vertically or horizontally. Eko says the technology infringes on its intellectual property. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the news.
Quibi refuted the claim, saying it began developing the technology in-house in late 2018 and recieved a patent for it in February.
"Our Turnstyle technology was developed internally at Quibi by our talented engineers and we have, in fact, received a patent for it," a Quibi representative said. "These claims have absolutely no merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them in court."
In a statement, Eko dismissed Quibi's motion as "nothing more than a PR stunt," adding that "Eko filed for a patent for its horizontal-to-vertical video technology in 2015."
Eko says Quibi chairman and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg met with Eko founder and CEO Yoni Bloch in March 2017 to discuss a "potential investment in Eko that would give Quibi majority control." During the meeting, Eko's horizontal-to-vertical technology was demoed, according to the company. Over several months, Snapchat employees also allegedly saw demos of the technology, as Bloch was looking to "work toward a potential integration of Eko technology into the Snapchat app." Those employees eventually joined Quibi.
In February 2019, Eko says Quibi said it hadn't started building its technology yet, but the following month Bloch met with Quibi employees to talk about potential partnerships.
"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," the company said in the statement. "Eko will take the legal actions necessary to defend its intellectual property and looks forward to demonstrating its patent rights to the court."
Quibi, which launches April 6, will have a $5/month ad-supported option, as well as an $8/month ad-free subscription. It'll include shows starring Game of Thrones' Sophie Turner, film star Idris Elba, The Hunger Games' Liam Hemsworth, model Chrissy Teigen, Chance the Rapper and Reese Witherspoon.