2:55pm PT by Ashley Cullins
Eko Asks Court to Prevent Sale of Turnstyle Tech in Quibi Dispute
Right before Quibi launched it started a legal battle over the tech it uses to transition video from horizontal to vertical viewing, and now that the company has announced it's shutting down, its courtroom foe is asking a California federal judge to freeze some of the defunct platform's assets.
Quibi in March sued interactive media company Eko, alleging it was engaging in a "campaign of threats and harassment" ahead of the platform's April 6 launch. Eko sued Quibi the same day, claiming it invented the technology behind Quibi's Turnstyle feature and Quibi employees stole it through a series of meetings and pitches.
In July, U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder denied Eko's request for an injunction that would have barred Quibi from using the tech while the litigation played out. She found Eko failed to show it would be irreparably harmed without that relief, but didn't address the merits of the company's claims.
Then, in a complicating twist on Oct. 21, Quibi announced it would be shuttering less than six months after its launch. CEO Meg Whitman and chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg wrote in an open letter to investors and employees that they “considered and exhausted every option available” but ultimately decided that Quibi was not attracting enough subscribers to continue to keep the business in operation. They are currently searching for buyers for Quibi’s library of shows and technology assets as they look to wind down the app by around Dec. 1.
On Wednesday, Eko filed another request for emergency relief — this time asking the court to freeze certain Quibi assets related to the intellectual property at issue in the dispute. Effectively, Eko is asking the court to block Quibi from selling the Turnstyle tech or the related patent. It also wants to make sure Quibi keeps enough cash on hand to pay damages in the event that Eko prevails in the litigation.
A Quibi spokesperson on Thursday sent The Hollywood Reporter this statement in response to the filing: “This is just another attempt by Eko to abuse the legal system. Quibi’s announcement that it is beginning an orderly wind-down changes nothing with respect to the litigation. We strongly believe the law and facts are on our side and we will continue to vigorously defend against this meritless lawsuit.”
Quibi's opposition to the filing is due Nov. 4.