Two competitors supplying software to plastics processors may be headed to court over uses of overlapping Web domains.
IQMS of Paso Robles, Calif., and DTR Software International Inc. of Jacksonville, Fla., are locked in a year-old dispute.
In April, DTR severed an 11-year relationship with Canadian distributor James R. Wilson, who was operating as Data Technical Research International, or DTR Software Canada, in Whitby, Ontario.
IQMS and Wilson created a partnership in April. A month later, Wilson established DataWil International Inc. in Whitby for a new identity. Wilson retained, and continued to use, the Web address dtrcanada.com - against DTR's wishes.
On Nov. 7, DTR purchased the Web addresses iqms.info and iqms.biz.
``I noticed [the sites] in mid-February,'' Terry Cline, IQMS vice president of operations, said in a telephone interview.
Use of either address resulted ``in a direct connection to DTR's Web site and an automatic replacement of the Web address entered with that of DTR,'' IQMS said in a cyber-piracy suit filed March 25 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. ``There is no legitimate connection between DTR and the registered domain names that would cause DTR to register the names, in absence of its competition with IQMS.''
Both iqms.biz and iqms.info now connect to an unidentified site under construction.
During the past year, DTR has been willing ``to swap the Web sites back where they should be'' if IQMS and Wilson would ``agree to stop using our letterhead and advertising materials,'' DTR President Dan Dudley said by telephone from Jacksonville. ``They [IQMS] promote their product in Canada under our company logo and Web site. We were waiting for them to contact us. We did not expect them to go this far'' and take legal action.
Dudley said DTR released Wilson from a two-year noncompetition agreement rather than sue him. Dudley claimed Wilson has not fulfilled conditions that were granted for the release.
``We agreed to dispose of material and any software we have in our possession,'' Wilson said. ``We have complied with that.''
Wilson blamed DTR for ``totally callous'' and ``unethical'' actions in timing of the severance after he made significant annual expenditures. ``We had paid for 2001'' advertising in Canadian plastics directories in advance of a triennial Canadian plastics show, and ``I am entitled to benefit from all of that,'' Wilson said. His business employs two, down from five in the latter stages of the DTR relationship.
``We do not use [DTR's] logo,'' Wilson said March 27. ``The Web site does not exist; I stopped it this morning.''
IQMS seeks damages of more than $200,000 and reimbursement of legal fees.
The lawsuit allegations list DTR's bad-faith misuse of a domain name and misleading commercial use of a trade name under two federal laws, and unfair competition under California and common laws, said IQMS lawyer J. Christine Dietrick with Hunt and Associates of San Luis Obispo, Calif. ``We are probably looking for a bench trial.''
The suit accuses DTR of improperly intercepting and reproducing an IQMS Web product-service demonstration ``in order to cast IQMS in an unflattering light to industry insiders.''
Cline said IQMS has about 270 software installations. DTR is about the same size. There is ``no question we are fierce competitors,'' Cline said.