Quibi and Eko are in a legal battle over video tech

Two video startups are making dueling legal claims against the other.

The Wall Street Journal broke the news yesterday that interactive video company Eko is accusing Quibi of infringing on its patented technology.

At around the same time, The Hollywood Reporter noted that Quibi (which is launching its short-form mobile video service next month) has filed a complaint in California federal court claiming that Eko has engaged in “a campaign of threats and harassment.”

At the heart of the dispute is Quibi’s Turnstyle technology, which allows viewers to seamlessly switch between landscape and portrait-mode viewing.

Both companies seem to agree that Eko CEO Yoni Bloch met with Jeffrey Katzenberg in March 2017 (before Katzenberg had even founded Quibi) about a possible investment in Eko, and that there was at least one follow-up meeting between Quibi and Eko employees in 2019.

Eko claims that it provided Quibi employees — both while they were working at Quibi and before then, when they were previously at Snap — with details and code behind its technology. Then, after Katzenberg and Quibi CEO Meg Whitman showed off Turnstyle at CES this year, Eko sent a letter to Quibi claiming that the feature infringed on its intellectual property. (According to the Journal’s story, Eko’s lawyers have sent a letter to Quibi but have not filed a lawsuit.)

“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.”

Meanwhile, in a statement, Eko described Quibi’s technology as “a near-identical copy of its own,” and said the company’s legal motion is “nothing more than a PR stunt”:

It is telling that Quibi filed the motion only after learning the Wall Street Journal was going to publish an article exposing allegations of Quibi’s theft of Eko’s technology … Eko will take the legal actions necessary to defend its intellectual property and looks forward to demonstrating its patent rights to the court.

You can read Quibi’s full complaint below.

Quibi complaint by TechCrunch on Scribd