Toronto firm slaps Citrix with lawsuit over GoToMyPC

Toronto area firm 01 Communique Laboratory Inc. Thursday said it has filed a lawsuit against Citrix Systems Inc. for what it claims is a patent infringement of aspects of its virtual desktop software.

01 Communique’s CFO Brian Stringer said that the patent in question covers the communication protocol associated with its Im InTouch product, which allows a user to access to a PC’s desktop remotely through an Internet connection. The alleged infringement includes Citrix’s GoToMyPC product, which performs a similar function. Stringer said 01 Communique applied for the patent in 2000 and it was granted in August of last year.

“Our product covers a process whereby a centralized server acts as a proxy to facilitate a communication session over the Internet between two PCs. In other words, it’s the communication – the method by which the two PCs communicate,” said Stringer. “When we look at their product GoToMyPC, how a remote PC communicates through a server to a host PC, we see the method by which they do that is the same method we follow.”

GoToMyPC first appeared on the market approximately five years ago and was acquired by Citrix when it bought Expertcity in 2004. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Citrix launched version five of the product last month. A spokesperson for Citrix did not return calls for comment at press time.

Intellectual property suits of this nature are becoming more and more common, said lawyer Rob Hyndman.

Hyndman, who runs a Toronto-based technology law practice, said that it is easier and cheaper to set up an IT firm today that it was in years past, making intellectual property “the new battleground for business. We’re seeing examples of that over and over again.”

The most high profile of such cases in recent years is NTP’s infringement suit against Waterloo, Ont.-based Research in Motion Inc.

Stringer said he has been keeping tabs on the RIM case and others like it. “I follow them out of interest,” he said. “I also follow them because we have a patent and you try to learn as much as you can. So, yeah, you learn a lot.”

01 Communique is represented in its suit against Citrix by U.S. law firm Baker & Hostetler LLP. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court in the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division.

It is too early to tell whether 01 Communique’s case has merit, said Hyndman. “It really is a matter of parsing the language and being able to go behind the scenes on the technology to understand exactly how it works. A subtle difference in the implementation of a concept can mean the difference between infringement and no infringement,” he said.

Several vendors make remote desktop software, including Microsoft and Symantec, and the outcome of the 01 Communique case may have implications for them, said Hyndman.

Stringer wouldn’t say if other IT vendors could be targeted for future lawsuits. “Right now, at this time, we’re only pursuing Citrix and nothing else.”

“It’s a common litigation strategy to go after one defendant at a time. The idea is, through either fear of being sued . . . or certainty that you’re going to be sued, you settle,” said Hyndman.

“NTP went after RIM, got an enormous amount of attention, then after that starting going after other wireless e-mail providers to get them to settle and some of them did. This could very well be kind of the litigation strategy that 01 has for this case.”

Stringer wouldn’t say if 01 Communique had spoken to Citrix prior to launching its suit, only that “we’ve known (about the alleged infringement) for quite some time.”

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