Eko Seeks Injunction Against Quibi, Claims Startup Views Itself as ‘Above the Law’

Sean Burch

Digital video company Eko has asked a federal judge on Wednesday for an injunction against Quibi, claiming the deep-pocketed startup, led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, misappropriated trade secrets and infringed on its patented technology.

Eko’s motion is the latest chapter in the ongoing feud between the Israeli company and Los Angeles-based Quibi. At the center of the Eko-Quibi battle is Turnstyle, a feature on Quibi’s app that will let viewers seamlessly shift between vertical and landscape video. Last Month, Quibi sued Eko, claiming it did not steal any company secrets relating to Turnstyle; a day later, Eko sued Quibi, saying it lifted the technology after executives from both companies met years earlier.

“Quibi’s actions have had a devastating effect on Eko’s goodwill in the marketplace, causing it significant harm which cannot be quantified,” Eko’s motion said on Wednesday. “Previously viewed as having ground-breaking, unique and proprietary technology, Eko has suffered reputational harm, and now needs to explain its ownership of technology that Quibi took from it. Quibi appears to believe that because of its star power and its efforts to attract Hollywood talent, it is above the law.”

The motion, filed in U.S. District Court in Central California, comes less than a week before Quibi’s April 6 launch. The app, with nearly $2 billion in funding, will offer mobile-only streaming content with shows running only 10 minutes or less. Quibi will cost $4.99 for ad-supported streaming and $7.99 for ad-free streaming.

Also Read: Should Quibi Launch in April Amid Coronavirus? Dilemmas of a $1.75 Billion Start-Up

Quibi, in its lawsuit last month, said Katzenberg “barely remembers” his meeting with Eko CEO Yoni Bloch in March 2017. Quibi was founded a year later, and in March 2019, two Quibi employees met with Eko to “get reacquainted” with the company, per its lawsuit last month. But by this point in time, according to the suit, Quibi had already started developing its Turnstyle technology in-house.

“Our Turnstyle technology was developed internally at Quibi by our talented engineers and we have, in fact, received a patent for it,” a Quibi spokesperson told TheWrap on Wednesday. “These claims have absolutely no merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them in court.”

Eko’s motion claims Quibi has “exploited” stay-at-home orders tied to the COVID-19 outbreak as a “marketing tool” to have people sign up for its app. The motion added that Quibi, while “under enormous pressure to deliver on the media hype it generated,” is “desperate to find a way to deliver content. Not having the technology to do so, it misappropriated Eko’s trade secrets, claiming them as its own.”

In its lawsuit last month, Quibi claimed Eko “embarked on a campaign of threats and harassment to coerce money or a licensing deal from Quibi,” after Katzenberg and Whitman debuted Turnstyle at CES 2020.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report. 

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