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Triller says TikTok is trying to “skirt the law” in ongoing David v Goliath patent dispute

By | Published on Thursday 29 October 2020


TikTok has hit back in a patent dispute with Triller by asking a San Francisco federal court to confirm that it isn’t infringing its rival’s intellectual property via its super popular video-sharing app.

For its part, Triller has quickly hit back at the hit back. It says that TikTok’s new legal filing is simply an attempt to “skirt the law”, positioning the dispute as a David and Goliath battle between a greedy Chinese conglomerate and a hard-working American start-up.

Music-centric video-sharing app Triller first sued TikTok for patent infringement back in July. The US-registered patent allegedly being infringed is good old 9,691,429, which covers “systems and methods for creating music videos synchronised with an audio track”. Triller alleges that TikTok is infringing that patent by allowing its users to “stitch together multiple videos while using the same audio track”.

According to Bloomberg, in the new legal filing this week, TikTok and its Chinese owner Bytedance are seeking a court order that confirms that neither they, nor their products, nor their users “infringe the patent and that none of them are liable for damages or injunctive relief”.

However, Triller CEO Mike Lu strongly criticised TikTok’s legal filing yesterday, questioning why the company has chosen to file its own lawsuit with the courts in San Francisco rather than properly responding to Triller’s litigation, which was filed with the courts in Waco, Texas.

Lu told reporters yesterday: “TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, have been infringing on Triller’s patents and stealing its technology for many years – enriching themselves and their investors at Triller’s expense. We brought a claim against them for this violation over three months ago, and they have failed to respond, claiming they didn’t have the time”.

On the new legal filing, he went on: “This is nothing more than a transparent attempt by a Chinese conglomerate with tens of thousands employees to manipulate the US legal system by not responding to Triller’s complaint or answering for their violations. Instead, they are attempting to skirt law so that they can keep stealing IP and technology”.

Bytedance, of course, is still fighting efforts by the American government to ban the use of TikTok in the US over concerns that – because the app is owned by a Chinese company – the Chinese government has access to its global user-base and user-data.

The TikTok owner is seeking to block the proposed ban in the American courts, while also concurrently trying to placate its critics in Washington via a proposed alliance with American tech firm Oracle.

Lu’s response to TikTok’s lawsuit very much capitalises on those concerns in Washington regarding his rival’s Chinese ownership. “This is not about TikTok and Triller”, he continued, “this is about all of the hard-working US entrepreneurs whose companies and technology continue to get ripped off by Chinese-based and Chinese government-controlled entities with unlimited resources – entities that play by a different set of rules”.

“This is a David and Goliath story”, he concluded, “and we look forward to our day in court, as well as our David and Goliath ending. We’re not only standing up for Triller; we’re standing up for its investors, its entrepreneurs, its employees, and all US-based businesses who have to deal with this on a daily basis”.