Although Roku acquired Quibi’s content after the short-form platform went under, rights to the unique Turnstyle feature were not part of the deal, Variety reports. Rights to the feature are still tied up in a legal battle with interactive video firm Eko who filed a lawsuit earlier this spring accusing Quibi of stealing its technology, including the feature which allows users to flip their phone from vertical to horizontal and have the video adjust to fit the screen.
In the latest courtroom drama, the judge agreed that Eko’s three patents on the technology are valid although Quibi claims they are not. The judge also ruled that former Snap employees went against their Eko NDA pertaining to interactive-video tech and stole trade secrets before heading over to Quibi.
“The Court agrees that the weight of circumstantial evidence is sufficient at this stage to suggest the Snapchat-turned-Quibi employees took the ORTS method [Eko’s Optimized Real Time Switching technology] with them to Quibi and used it to assist with the development of Turnstyle,” Judge Christina Snyder of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California wrote in the Dec. 30 decision. Quibi hired on two former Snap employees on October 15, 2019. Two weeks later, Quibi CTO Rob Post said that his development team “settled on five candidates for its rotation technology.”
However, Snyder ruled against Eko’s hold on Quibi’s assets, saying “the Court concludes that Eko has not submitted evidence that satisfies its burden that a freeze of Quibi’s financial assets is warranted.” Quibi is now required to give the Court and Eko a heads up before they sell or transfer any technology, and have to let them know within 48 hours of making a decision. Quibi is also required to let them know at least 60 days prior to distributing any funds or assets to investors.
Despite all this, Quibi is still claiming innocence with a rep saying that “Quibi has maintained from the beginning that Eko’s lawsuit is meritless. We appreciate the Court’s lengthy and thoughtful preliminary injunction opinion, which rejects Eko’s baseless theories, and underscores that the law and the facts are on our side.”
On Jan. 11, 2021, Quibi filed a response to the amended lawsuit and reiterated that the company “does not and has not infringed, induced infringement of, or contributed to the infringement of” the Eko patents, saying that Quibi independently developed the Turnstyle technology “because the alleged trade secret is not a trade secret, but rather was readily ascertainable by persons of ordinary skill in the pertinent art(s).”
Basically, Quibi is saying anyone with a decent amount of tech skill could have developed the feature, and that’s just what happened. Quibi’s lawyers are calling on the court to toss out Eko’s request for money and an injuction.
Quibi’s lawyers have asked the court to deny Eko’s bid for an injunction and demands for monetary damages.