February 3, 2005 8:27 AM PST

WebEx hits Citrix with cybersquatting suit

WebEx Communications said Thursday that it has filed a lawsuit against Citrix Systems, alleging that a competitor engaged in trademark infringement and cybersquatting by registering domain names similar to that of its new service.

Filing its suit in the U.S. District Court for Northern California, WebEx alleges that Citrix registered as many as 10 domain names that used variations of the name of WebEx's service.

Back on Jan. 24, WebEx announced its MyWebEx PC service line, which includes MyWebEx PC Free and MyWebEx PC Pro. These offerings are designed to let people access their PCs remotely. San Jose, Calif.-based WebEx also sells applications designed to let companies conduct meetings over the Web.

On that same day, WebEx said, Citrix registered such domains as MyPCWebEx.com and WebExPc.com. The sites are currently inactive.

A representative of Citrix, which is based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was not available for immediate comment. The company makes networking software, and it too offers solutions for accessing one's PC remotely and conducting online meetings.

The issue of companies and organizations snapping up domain names that one day may be useful is nothing new. But recently, cases have emerged when the practice is used as a pre-emptive strike against competition. Companies, organizations or individuals register specific domain names with hopes of making money later by selling them to a likely interested party.

Legislators have also been drawn into cybersquatting issues.

In 2000, pop singer Madonna battled an operator of pornographic Web sites over cybersquatting. The Material Girl filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, to get control of a domain name that featured her stage name. She has since taken over the Madonna.com site.

Under a measure adopted by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which oversees domain registries, trademark holders are able to reclaim domain names that someone has used in "bad faith."

And in 2001, a federal appeals court ruled that federal courts have jurisdiction over international domain name disputes, including those filed with WIPO or ICANN.

 

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