A Canadian integrated communications software developer, 01 Communique, is suing Citrix Systems for willful patent infringement regarding Citrix's GoToMyPC technology solution versus 01 Communique's I'm InTouch remote access solution.
The lawsuit stems back a year and a half ago when 01 Communique created and developed what they believed was a unique remote access solution called I'm InTouch that gives users access and control to data found on their home or office PC by locating another Internet-connected PC. Once the software is activated, users can access their computers from virtually anywhere simply by clicking on a Web link and logging in via a login name and password.
01 Communique CFO, Brian Stringer, said the company applied for a patent for I'm InTouch once it was developed -- receiving that patent in August 2005.
"Citrix came out after us with their GoToMyPC solution that we believe uses our technology," Stringer said. "We've worked real long and hard to get where we are today. The technology is so complex yet the solution is so simple making remote access [easy] for customers.
"Citrix has a good product because it's built on our technology. We're defending and enforcing our patent with this lawsuit against Citrix."
01 Communique's I'm InTouch software gives users anywhere access to computers from virtually any space. All that's required is access and a switched-on Internet connection, user name and password. Features include the abilities to run desktop programs, transfer files between PCs and manage Microsoft Outlook email.
Citrix's GoToMyPC solution is a managed service that provides Web-based access to desktop resources. Like with 01 Communique's I'm InTouch, GoToMyPC users are required to log in via user name and password. Once authorisation is granted, users have access and control as if they were using their actual PC. Users can access their desktops from other Internet-connected machines.
"This is a US patent," Stringer said. "We're suing [Citrix] for willful infringement and we're looking for past damages plus an injunction. We want them to stop infringing on our patent and we'd like to see them stop using our technology."
Stringer says if the US court handed down an injunction to Citrix, about a million US-based fee-paying subscribers of GoToMyPC would have their services terminated.
Heydary Hamilton PC's of Toronto technology lawyer, Javad Heydary, said many reasons could spark such legal action. "A company has a patent to protect its intellectual property rights," Heydary said.
"Patents relate to technology and are issued on a country to country basis, so they're only valid in the country where they're issued. For Canadian businesses, it's absolutely crucial to get a patent in the US to better protect yourself."
Heydary said that if 01 Communique can prove Citrix is guilty, they have a better chance of claiming more damages.
"From a business perspective, this is important for the Canadian company because if they can establish infringement, they'll be looking at a fairly sizeable judgment," Heydary said.
01 Communique is also seeking past damages from Citrix, but Heydary warned that they could be hard to measure.
Heydary said that, if 01 Communique won the case, the companies would have to come to a settlement agreement where Citrix coughed up a certain amount of money. A mandatory licensing fee might also be awarded, per product or by the percentage of product revenue.
If Citrix were to pull GoToMyPC from the market, 01 Communique could quickly step in to serve that space.
"This would affect our company very positively," 01 Communique's Stringer said. "If Citrix were to pull out of the market, we would step in, to fill that void for their subscribers."
Citrix director of corporate communications, Eric Armstrong, provided an email statement. "We believe that we do not infringe 01 Communique's patent and intend to vigorously contest this litigation," Armstrong said in the email.
In a patent issues hearing in the US District Court 2006, 01 Communique's patent and the protections included within it were examined.
The hearing notes said that, while the court was available to mediate and settle such discovery disputes, parties should make a greater effort in scenarios such as this to confer and settle among themselves.
A court date is set for January 28, 2008.