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Quibi in Legal Battle With Eko Over ‘Turnstyle’ Feature

Stephanie Sengwe

During a keynote session at CES 2020 in Las Vegas back in January, Tom Conrad, Quibi’s chief product officer, announced that the service will come with a new innovation called Turnstyle when it launches on April 6. Turnstyle allows for seamless fullscreen viewing whether the consumer is holding their phone in landscape or portrait mode.

Now, less than a month before its official launch, Quibi is in court over the new technology. According to Variety, the streamer filed a lawsuit hoping to pacify Eko — an interactive-video company — that claims Quibi infringed a patent they hold over a similar technology.

Eko and Quibi agree on the fact that Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg met with Eko co-founder and CEO Yoni Bloch back in 2017 and discussed the streamer’s possible investment in Eko. However, it was at this meeting that Eko claims they demonstrated a “horizontal-to-vertical video technology” for Katzenberg who later decided to pass on the investment before filing a patent on Turnstyle in 2019, Variety said.

“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,” a representative for Eko told Variety.

Additionally, Eko also claims that “several months in 2017 and 2018” they met with three Snap employees over a possible integration of Snapchat and Eko. Those employees went on to join Quibi — two moved to the streamer in October of 2018 and the third went in spring 2019.

For their part, Quibi is denying Eko’s claims. First, Katzenberg says he “barely remembers the [2017] meeting.” In addition, Variety quotes the company saying, “The employees referenced by Eko are not engineers or computer programmers, do not read source code, and would have had no reason to request or obtain Eko code. In any event, no Quibi employee brought or used any Eko trade secrets, computer code, or proprietary information to Quibi.”

“Our Turnstyle technology was developed internally at Quibi by our talented engineers and we have, in fact, received a patent for it,” a spokeswoman for the streaming service said in a statement. “These claims have absolutely no merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them in court.”

Quibi (short for quick bites) is set to launch on April 6 and will focus on high-quality short form content that is designed to be watched on your smartphone. The mobile streaming streaming will offer two plans — $4.99 with ads and $7.99 without ads. The ad-supported product will include a pre-roll ad, as well as a one to two mid-roll ads depending on the length of the content.

Photo credit: CES 2020