The startup Quibi, led by founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman, plans to launch its short-form mobile video streaming service on April 6. But now it’s facing a patent infringement claim over one of its key technologies, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The patent infringement claim relates to Quibi’s highly-touted Turnstyle technology, which provides viewers with an optimized view of the video whether they’re holding their mobile phones in a horizontal or vertical position. The interactive video company Eko says it invented the technology.
Quibi debuted its Turnstyle technology at CES earlier this year. The Quibi executives said their company invented the technology, which allows viewers to shift between landscape and portrait modes. And it’s more than just cropping or using algorithms to optimize for each mode. Quibi’s CTO Rob Post said at CES that each episode on Quibi is actually created with two separate edits: one for portrait and one for landscape.
But Eko, a New York-based company that creates interactive videos used in entertainment programming and advertising, claims that it invented the technology and has patented it, according to the WSJ. Eko claims the disputed technology stems from employees who worked with Snap. Eko worked with three Snap employees on the development of transition technology for horizontal-to-vertical video. And Eko filed for a related patent in 2015, and was granted the patent in October 2019. Snap never used the technology.
Meanwhile, those three Snap employees moved to Quibi.
Quibi denies stealing Eko’s intellectual property, and says its Turnstyle technology was developed in-house. Quibi received a patent for Turnstyle on February 4. According to WSJ, two of the former Snap employees are listed as inventors on the Quibi patent.
Although Eko has not filed a lawsuit against Quibi, Quibi has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court, seeking a declaratory judgment that it did not infringe on Eko’s patent.
An Eko spokesperson said the company is open to finding an “amicable solution” that rightfully recognizes its work.