Short-from video app TikTok and parent company ByteDance have been sued by rival Triller, the music-focused social media app, for patent infringement. Ryan Kavanaugh-backed startup has accused the already troubled TikTok for stealing one of its key proprietary features last year and now demands an unspecified amount in damages.
This is the latest in the long list of accusations against TikTok that has landed the company in serious trouble lately. TikTok is among the many Chinese apps that have been facing global backlash over the past few months, which got aggravated after the United States alleged that China may be possibly using TokTok's data for spying on it.
Triller on Wednesday filed a suit in the US District Court for the Western Division of Texas, wherein it has claimed that TikTok lifted its "systems and methods for creating music videos synchronized with an audio track". The patented feature allows users to stitch together multiple video clips while using a single audio track. Triller was granted the patent in 2017 and the lawsuit claims that TikTok clearly infringes on Triller's patent.
Triller's lawsuit particularly focuses on TikTok's 'Green Screen Video', a feature that was introduced last December where the patented feature has been used. The lawsuit includes photographic evidence arguing that the feature helps directly facilitate the patent infringement. Triller's CEO Mike Lu has also made claims that TikTok had separately made payments to its creators to not post on the Triller platform.
"It's neither ethical nor legal in our opinion. If every $200 billion company could just pay their customers to not join a startup competitor, entrepreneurship in America would die and no new companies could ever exist," Lu said. Triller is also planning to amend its complaint and includes antitrust violations. The company now seeks an injunction against further infringements and an unspecified amount of damages from TikTok.
TikTok Mired in Controversy
Triller is a relatively smaller company compared to TikTok but the app has gained popularity over the years. The Los Angeles-based company launched its music video app in 2015 and has in recent times wooed several TikTok stars, who have been worrying about the way ByteDance could be using their data to its platform.
In fact, Triller in recent times has managed to rope in some of the top TikTok stars. Earlier this week, the company announced the appointment of Josh Richards as its chief strategy officer, who has more than 20 million followers on TikTok. Other TikTok stars, including Griffin Johnson and Noah Beck, are also joining Triller as advisors and shareholders. Triller's other backers include names like Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne.
Triller may not enjoy the popularity as TikTok but the recent patent infringement lawsuit definitely is a big blow for the company. This comes amid growing concerns over the app's data privacy and security. The United States has been constantly alleging that Beijing might be using TikTok's data to spy on Washington, which now has made the European Union cast doubt over the company's credibility. The app was recently banned in India, while many other countries including the United States are contemplating similar action.