Even in Death, Quibi’s Legal Troubles Continue

Even in Death, Quibi’s Legal Troubles Continue
Image: Quibi

Quibi’s leadership has finally plugged the plug on a streaming service for which failure has for months seemed like an inevitability. But if Quibi’s founders believed the company’s legal troubles would vanish along with the service itself, Eko would like to inform Quibi otherwise.

Since before the service even launched, Quibi has been locked in an ongoing legal skirmish with interactive video firm Eko over its signature Turnstyle feature, which is the technology at the heart of the entire point of Quibi. Turnstyle allowed users to see two different views of a stream depending on how they oriented their phone, meaning that they could watch either horizontally or vertically without the quality of the picture being distorted or shrunk down when held in portrait mode. Together with its so-called “bite-sized” content, that made Quibi ideal for on-the-go viewing.

But Eko has alleged that Quibi effectively stole this proprietary technology, an allegation that Quibi has repeatedly denied. Now, following news of Quibi’s death this week, Eko has made its position clear: Frankly, we don’t give a shit. In a statement cited by Variety, Eko lawyer Neel Chatterjee said the company plans to “vigorously pursue Eko’s rights to ensure that Quibi does not exacerbate the harm it has already caused.”

“We have put Quibi on notice that it cannot simply wind down its business, send its investors hundreds of millions of dollars and sell its stolen technology to a third party without first resolving its issues with Eko,” Chatterjee said.

Multiple reports have said Quibi is now focused on returning capital to investors, though founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman may be out millions.

Neither Quibi nor Eko immediately returned requests for comment.

In a joint statement about their decision to end the service, Whitman and Katzenberg said Quibi’s failure was likely the result of two primary causes: “because the idea itself wasn’t strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing.” They added that in the coming months they would “be working hard to find buyers for these valuable assets who can leverage them to their full potential.”

Quibi said this week that it expects its service to end “on or about Dec. 1, 2020,” meaning Quibi will still technically be operational for several more weeks. Evidently, that’s all the same to Eko, which appears more than willing to draw out a petty legal fight over technology that virtually no one used.