Feeds

WebEx sues Citrix for cybersquatting

Turning around an embarrassing lapse

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Online conferencing company WebEx is suing Citrix for cybersquatting.

It has filed a suit in the Northern District Court of California claiming trademark infringement, cybersquatting and unfair competition thanks to Citrix buying a number of domain names virtually identical to WebEx's latest service.

It's been a long while since we've seen a company-on-company cybersquatting challenge - the corporate world has learned to pretty much to steer clear of each others' trademarks online. But WebEx appears keen to make the most of it.

It's an open-and-shut case. WebEx launched a remote access service on 24 January that it called MyWebExPC, and to tie in with it, it registered and launched a website at, yep, www.mywebexpc.com. The very same day, a quick-thinking Citrix exec, Brent LaSala, started checking out other similar domain names to see if WebEx had picked them up.

When he found they hadn't, he mischievously bought them. And what a lot there are: webexpc.com, mypcwebex.com, mypcwebx.com, my-webex-pc.com, mywebexpcfree.com, mywebxpcfree.com, mywebexpro.com, mywebxpro.com, mywebexpcpro.com and mywebxpcpro.com.

LaSala is the main man at Citrix dealing with the company's own version of WebEx's new service, called GoToMyPC (actually, Citrix bought the technology with its acquisition of ExpertCity in December 2003 for $225m).

WebEx, understandably, is not very pleased with this turn of events and has decided to sue Citrix claiming trademark infringement and alleging that the purchases were "an attempt to illegally divert potential customers" - which would give it grounds for requesting a fine.

Fortunately, LaSala has also been clever enough not to actually put anything up on any of the domains, although WebEx alleges he redirected the domains to Citrix' service from the day he registered them until the day the lawsuit was filed. Nevertheless, if WebEx advertises its service's new website and people can't recall it, is that sufficient justification for suing the owner of the domain that they mistype?

As for the case of trademarks, well there is a clear infringement. WebEx owns a fair few trademarks and most of them pertain to the name "WebEx". As a main rival, Citrix can hardly have been unaware. WebEx doesn't have a "MyWebExPC" trademark, but then that is unlikely to worry a court - it is quite clear that Citrix has knowingly infringed trademark.

But several questions remain. Most fundamental of all is: why didn't WebEx just register all the domains in the first place? For less than they have already spent on lawyers, they could have bought all the domains easily and effectively. This is something that companies amazingly still have yet to learn.

But ignoring that stupidity, why is WebEx going to court? It would be faster and cheaper to go to one of the domain name arbitrators, who would have no difficulty in finding for WebEx and insisting the domains were handed over. Such a case may also serve to clarify a few points of the increasingly tenuous UDRP domain resolution rules.

There are two possibilities: one, WebEx honestly thinks it will get some money out of Citrix for stealing customers. Or two, WebEx figures it might as well get some press coverage for its new service by suing Citrix and getting stories exactly like this one written.

The second reason is more likely, and it has the added advantage that it gets one back on Citrix which has made it look foolish. There is no realistic scenario in which Citrix will be allowed to keep the domains if WebEx insists on having them. Still it's nice to see a bit of old-fashioned domain name argy-bargy. ®

Related stories

Dell joins domain name hall of shame (again)
German web host slams ex-partner NSI in domain dispute
Roxio wins napster.co.uk from the Crown
Microsoft lawyers threaten Mike Rowe (17)

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Microsoft exits climate denier lobby group
ALEC will have to do without Redmond, it seems
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.