No April Fools! Quibi Threatened With Shutdown By Eko Days Before Jeffrey Katzenberg Mobile Service Starts

“Plaintiff JBF Interlude 2009 Ltd. – Israel seeks a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendant Quibi Holdings LLC from misappropriating Eko’s proprietary technology for mobile device optimized ‘Real Time Switching’” proclaims a filing today in federal court trying to hit the brakes on the heavily hyped Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman shepherded mobile streaming service just five days before it launches with a plethora of short form programming.

“This trade secret technology, which is a critical part of Eko’s technology platform, had been shared with Quibi employees under multiple non-disclosure agreements,” the Goodwin Procter lawyered up company claims, in language and desired outcomes echoing their March 10 lawsuit that came a day after Quibi first took Eko to court.

And if that whirlwind doesn’t give you some corporate flop sweat, today’s multiple declaration backed jacking up of the stakes might in this time of the COVID-19 crisis.

“In reality, Eko owns the technology and promptly asked Quibi to cease and desist,” an accompanying memorandum of points (read it here) from Eko’s parent company says of the slow burn confrontation between the parties over the past few months. “In response, Quibi sent an untruthful letter and then filed a declaratory judgment action,” the 30-page paperwork submitted to U.S. District Court in California adds.

Then the gloves really come off.

“When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Quibi exploited the ‘stay-at-home’ orders as a marketing tool to encourage people to sign up for its Turnstyle platform based on the misappropriated Eko technology,” the memo professes with terms previously not heard in this feud. “Quibi, having raised $2 billion, and under enormous pressure to deliver on the media hype it generated, was 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.”

Reached for comment on today’s harsh and potentially untimely filing, reps for Katzenberg and Whitman’s platform merely reiterated their bland statement from last month that “our Turnstyle technology was developed internally at Quibi by our talented engineers and we have, in fact, received a patent for it.” As they said after Eko had filed a complaint with the Apple App store, which lite the fuse for Quibi’s own lawsuit on March 9, the studio backed platform noted too that “these claims have absolutely no merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them in court.”

On the other hand, Eko is heralding its case a likely winner already. “Eko is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim brought under the Defend Trade Secrets Act,” the motion (read it here) advocates for why Judge John A. Kronstadt should issue the injunction order ASAP. “Eko is suffering, and will continue to suffer, irreparable harm if a preliminary injunction is not issued.”

Even though they canceled their big April 5 red-carpet event last month due to concerns over coronavirus, Quibi is still set to debut April 6 with a relatively well stocked cellar of shows from creators and studios. Aimed to snag the YouTube generation’s attention and eventually wallets, the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen, Chance the Rapper, Liam Hemsworth, Sophie Turner, Lena Waithe, Nicole Richie and Reese Witherspoon are on board with 10-minute bite series of dramas, comedies and unscripted offerings such as a Punk’d revival, Most Dangerous Game, Thanks a Million, and Chrissy’s Court.

Reacting to the realities of a nearly 80% isolated America cramping the on-the-go premise of the service, the mainly mobile platform is now offering a 90-day free trial to those who sign up on its website before next week. Regular monthly pricing is set at $4.99 (with ads) and $7.99 (no ads). Having just secured another hefty funding round, Quibi plans to release 175 original shows and 8,500 episodes in its first year.

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