A Quibi attorney argued on Thursday that the company would suffer “immense harm” if forced to disable its Turnstyle feature pending the outcome of a patent lawsuit.
Eko, a New York-based video company, filed suit in March, alleging that Quibi had stolen its method of rotating video between horizontal and vertical orientations. Eko is seeking an injunction that would force Quibi to disable the feature while the suit is being litigated.
In a telephonic hearing before U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt on Thursday, Quibi’s attorney argued that the company independently developed the Turnstyle feature. The attorney, Michael Jacobs, also argued that it Quibi would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction were granted.
“We would have to rip out a function and figure out how to deliver content to our users in a very turbulent time in the world in which Quibi is trying to get customers to sign up for its business,” Jacobs said. “We’ve invested in two assets — a horizontal and a vertical asset. If we can’t implement Turnstyle, then half of that asset — for every particular show — that asset disappears.”
Kronstadt asked Eko’s attorney, Neel Chatterjee, to respond to Quibi’s claim that it would suffer significant harm if Turnstyle were disabled.
“They can still provide the Quibi service,” Chatterjee said. “They could turn off the Turnstyle feature and still provide it.”
Eko contends that it gave a demonstration of its product to a team at Snap under a non-disclosure agreement. Some of the Snap employees later moved to Quibi and worked on Quibi’s patented process for switching between landscape and portrait video modes, Eko alleges.
“Quibi is very hard-pressed to say they didn’t have access to the trade secrets,” Chatterjee argued.
Eko also contends that Quibi’s use of the Turnstyle feature has harmed Eko’s business prospects and caused confusion in the marketplace. Chatterjee alleged during the argument that Quibi had modified its logo to resemble Eko’s logo.
Jacobs argued that there is no evidence that Snap or Quibi had access to the actual technical details of Eko’s “optimized real-time switching” feature. And he said it’s not even clear that Eko uses the feature it’s described in its complaint.
“They’ve described it in very broad terms,” Jacobs said. “The more granular you get, the less clear it is that Eko uses what they say it is.”
After the hour-long public hearing, the parties transferred to a private phone line to discuss aspects of the case that involve confidential information. The court then concluded the hearing, and both sides now await Kronstadt’s decision.