The short-form, mobile video streaming platform Quibi is scheduled to launch on April 6th, but it's already facing a patent infringement dispute. Eko, a New York-based company that creates interactive videos, claims Quibi used patented tech and stolen trade secrets to develop its "Turnstyle" technology, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The tech in question allows Quibi to play different videos depending on whether the viewer is holding their phone horizontally or vertically, and it's central to Quibi's offering. Eko's lawyers sent Quibi a letter demanding that it stop using the technology or license it. Eko also claims that some Quibi employees stole trade secrets -- which they allegedly had access to in roles at Quibi and Snap -- to develop the Turnstyle feature.
Quibi denies Eko's allegations, and the company has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court seeking a declaratory judgment that it didn't infringe on Eko's patent or misappropriate trade secrets.
"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 shared by WSJ. "These claims have absolutely no merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them in court."
Quibi has 175 shows planned for its first year, and many of them involve big-name celebrities. But we don't know for sure whether the Quibi model is going to work out. It will share content as short clips (10 minutes or less) and charge viewers $4.99 per month with ads, or $7.99 per month without ads. Of course, accusations related to Quibi's signature feature could pose a major challenge.
Update (3/10): Eko filed its lawsuit against Quibi today, including the claim that engineers for Quibi had previously worked at Snapchat, where it alleges they had access to the copyrighted technology. The documents allege those engineers pitched Jeffrey Katzenberg with Eko's technology. In a statement given to Engadget, a Quibi spokesperson said: "Our Turnstyle technology was developed internally at Quibi by our talented engineers and we have, in fact, received a patent for it. These claims have absolutely no merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them in court."