Canadian software developer suing Citrix

GoToMyPC breaches our patents, says firm

Ontario-based integrated communications software developer 01 Communique is suing Citrix for willful patent infringement.

The lawsuit stems back a year and a half ago when 01 Communique created and developed what it believed was a unique remote access solution called I'm InTouch, that gives users access to, and control of, 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.

Brian Stringer, chief financial officer at 01 Communique, says after I'm InTouch was developed, the company sought out a patent for it and received one in August 2005.

"Citrix came out after us with their GoToMyPC solution that we believe uses our technology," Stringer says. "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 [GoToMyPC] because it's built on our technology. We're defending and enforcing our patent with this lawsuit against Citrix."

I'm InTouch gives users anywhere access to computers from virtually any space. All that's required is access and a connection to the internet as well as a user name and password. Some of the features of I'm InTouch include the ability to run desktop programs, the ability to transfer files between PCs and the ability to manage Microsoft Outlook email.

Citrix's GoToMyPC is a managed service that provides web-based access to all desktop resources. Like 01 Communique's I'm InTouch, GoToMyPC users are required to log in via a login name and password.Once authorisation is granted, users have complete access and control over their remote desktops as if they were using their actual PC. As with I'm InTouch, users can also access their desktops from virtually anywhere.

It is a combination of all of these similarities and similar technology that has 01 Communique battling it out in court with Citrix over patent infringement.

"This is a US patent," Stringer says. "We're suing [Citrix] for wilful 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."

Javad Heydary, a technology lawyer at Toronoto law firm Heydary Hamilton, says there are many reasons behind this type of legal action.

"The reason why a company has a patent is to protect the company's intellectual property rights," Heydary says.

"Patents relate to technology and are issued from 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 explains that because 01 Communique is suing for wilful patent infringement, if they can prove Citrix is liable, 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 says.

01 Communique is also seeking past damages from Citrix, but Heydary warns this could be hard to measure because it's a matter of knowing just how far back they can go to claim these.

He says if 01 Communique wins the case, both companies would have to come to a settlement agreement where Citrix pays them a certain amount of money. Also, there may be a mandatory licensing fee that Citrix would have to pay. While this all depends on what the judge rules, Heydary says the licensing fee could be based per product or by the percentage of revenue.

Stringer says if Citrix was to pull its GoToMyPC products from the market, 01 Communique would quickly step in to serve that space.

"This would affect our company very positively," Stringer says. "If Citrix were to theoretically pull from the market, we would step into fill that void with our solutions for their subscribers."

Citrix refused to be interviewed regarding the O1Communique lawsuit. Eric Armstrong, the conpany's director of corporate communications, would only provide an email statement: "We believe that we do not infringe 01 Communique's patent and intend to vigorously contest this litigation."

During a Markman hearing — a hearing only handles patent issues and solely used in the US — in the US District Court at the Northern District of Ohio's Eastern Division on November 6, 2006, the US court looked over 01 Communique's patent and the protections included within it.

In the hearing notes, the court stated, "while it is 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 regarding this lawsuit is set to take place on January 28.

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