Quibi denies patent infringement claim

The streaming company filed suit against Eko after it said a core feature infringes on its intellectual property.

Abrar Al-Heeti Technology Reporter
Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Abrar Al-Heeti
2 min read

Quibi is disputing the rights to a key technology with interactive video company Eko.


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 received 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." 

Watch this: Quibi's video tech hopes to dazzle

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."

A Quibi representative refuted part of Eko's story, saying Katzenberg met with Eko in 2017 to look into a possible investment opportunity for his operating holding company, WndrCo. Katzenberg and WdnrCo ultimately chose not to invest in Eko, the representative said, adding that the meeting was high-level and that no sensitive information was exchanged. 

Quibi, which launches April 6, will have a $5-a-month ad-supported option, as well as an $8-a-month ad-free subscription. It'll include shows starring Game of ThronesSophie Turner, film star Idris Elba, The Hunger Games' Liam Hemsworth, model Chrissy TeigenChance the Rapper and Reese Witherspoon