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Citrix sues VDI challenger Workspot

Patents the pretence, cloudy control planes competition a more likely cause

Citrix has taken legal action against desktop virtualization challenger Workspot, alleging patent infringement and false and misleading public statements.

Workspot offers desktop virtualization (VDI) and application virtualization with its control plane entirely in the cloud, but desktops and applications either on-premises or in Azure. That’s the same route that Citrix has recently decided to follow with its Citrix cloud.

Citrix has claimed it is the wounded party, writing “We took this action only after serious consideration and multiple attempts to inform Workspot of the false and misleading nature of their public statements.”

“Workspot, however, chose to continue to mislead the market and has continuously used Citrix patented features of our XenApp and XenDesktop products and cloud services without permission or license.”

Citrix hasn’t revealed where it filed its suit and The Register cannot find it in listings of freshly-filed US court cases, so we cannot say which patents Citrix believes have been infringed.

But as luck would have it, The Register’s virtualization desk last year conducted a briefing with Workspot. Our notes from the conversation recorded company officials as less-than-complementary about Citrix and other VDI players like VMware on grounds of complexity. Workspot also suggested to us that users are rejecting Citrix’s offer of digital workspaces, preferring to acquire standalone VDI.

Workspot’s comments sounded like the usual attempts at competitive differentiation: if they made a misrepresentation of Citrix’s wares it escaped us!

Reg analysis

Citrix’s action against Workspot is its second such lawsuit this year: in January 2018 it took on small networking company AVI over the same issues it’s used on Workspot: patents and false statements.

Two such suits begins to look like a pattern.

The question is what sort of pattern is emerging. AVI is a very small concern and when The Register spoke to Workspot it had around 50 staff. Suing such small competitors could signal that Citrix’s main concern is to protect its IP, no matter who infringes it. Which is fair enough. And also cheaper to do against smaller rivals than a larger concern, while also creating the opportunity to create precedents that make future litigation cheaper and easier to pursue.

Or perhaps Citrix’s plan is to damage competitors before they become a significant threat. Workspot looks to have the potential to attain such status as its wares are very close to Citrix’s. Workspot also challenges Citrix’s assertion that productivity needs more than just a well-managed desktop.

At stake in the VDI market is users that need control: VDI is popular among government users who don’t trust standalone PCs. And government users are often slower-moving and/or more loyal, meaning they are easier to retain than their private sector rivals. If suing a few small contenders gives Citrix the chance to secure more such customers, the lawyers’ bills will pay for themselves. ®

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