ByteDance and its uber-popular video-sharing app TikTok are suing rival Triller over patent infringement claims.
The case is in response to a patent infringement lawsuit that Triller filed against TikTok in July in which Triller accuses ByteDance's TikTok of having used its technology for years, specifically since its patent was approved in 2017. ByteDance has denied those allegations and said Triller's claims that ByteDance swiped its tech for its own use has "cast a cloud" over its business, according to the latest court filings. CNBC first reported the countersuit.
In a statement to Business Insider, Triller CEO Mike Lu said ByteDance and TikTok's lawsuit 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."
Lu also said that "this is a David and Goliath story, and we look forward to our day in court, as well as our David and Goliath ending." TikTok did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
The latest suit comes as TikTok remains entangled in a monthslong fight with the Trump administration. US officials have criticized the app's China-based parent company, ByteDance, over national security concerns. Some US lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed fear that the app's ubiquity in the nation could result in the Chinese government having access to millions of Americans' personal data.
As a result, President Trump has floated a potential US ban on TikTok as well as ordered ByteDance to divest its US TikTok business as a means to cut ties with China. Microsoft looked to be the favorite in the long list of companies reportedly in talks to buy TikTok, but Oracle unexpectedly won the bid to be the app's "trusted technology provider." The Oracle deal remains in limbo, and TikTok's future in the US remains unclear.
TikTok has 690 million monthly active users worldwide, with 100 million of those in the US.
As the Trump administration has attempted to block TikTok from the US market, other tech firms have moved in with TikTok-like services, like Instagram's Reels feature that allows users to create short videos on the platforms.
Triller, which was founded in 2015, has also experienced soaring popularity — the app rose to the top of app store rankings in August as a TikTok ban seemed imminent. In October 2019, the company said its userbase had grown 500% year-over-year to 13 million monthly active users, but that figure has been contested by former employees who say it could be much lower than that.