In July, Triller levied a firmly worded patent-infringement lawsuit against competing video-sharing app TikTok. Now, the ByteDance-owned platform has fired back with a complaint of its own, seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement for the underlying patent.
TikTok and Beijing-headquartered ByteDance recently submitted their suit to a California federal court, and Digital Music News obtained an exclusive copy of the corresponding filing. The patent at the center of this case and Triller’s initial lawsuit, entitled “Systems and methods for creating music videos synchronized with an audio track,” concerns the technology associated with analyzing user-captured videos and aligning them with alike (mood- and content-wise) tracks.
TikTok begins its refutation of the infringement allegations by pushing back against the fact that Triller initiated the action in a Texas federal court. The plaintiffs emphasize that ByteDance is a foreign “holding company” that doesn’t have “employees or facilities” in the Lone Star State. California, TikTok and ByteDance maintain, is a “proper forum” for the suit because it’s a “state where all of the relevant parties are based.”
In terms of Triller’s actual claims, the plaintiffs state in the legal document that neither they “nor their products have infringed” Patent No. 9,691,429, which Triller co-founders David Leiberman and Samuel Rubin filed for in 2017, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Specifically, TikTok says in the new complaint that it doesn’t encompass or perform the patent’s first “method step” of syncing videos with music while users are capturing footage – or two other “method steps” that constitute the 429 patent.
Triller CEO Mike Lu didn’t hesitate to publicly address TikTok’s lawsuit, indicating in a widely circulated statement: “This is nothing more than a transparent attempt by a Chinese conglomerate with tens of thousands employees to manipulate the U.S. legal system by not responding to Triller’s complaint or answering for their violations.”
With TikTok still facing a decidedly uncertain stateside future, Triller has taken a number of steps in recent months to attract users and fill the potential video-sharing void. Just weeks after filing the aforementioned patent-infringement case, Triller solidified its content-delivery infrastructure by inking an 18-month contract with 7digital.
Plus, the platform closed a major deal with JioSaavn, India’s largest music streaming service, that same month. Amid rising regional tensions, the Indian government has banned a number of apps with Chinese ties – including TikTok, in a move that prompted ByteDance to predict that it would suffer a $6 billion loss.
Despite closing multiple licensing deals with collecting societies and indie publishers, and even nabbing the exclusive streaming rights for Mike Tyson’s November 28th bout with Roy Jones Jr., Triller also made headlines when former employees claimed that its user data was inflated. Company officials flatly refuted the allegation earlier this month.