Competitors Go to Court over Email Innovation
Trapp, Roger, The Independent (London, England)
ard-pressed businesses struggling to keep up with the deluge of data from fax machines, emails and voicemail messages are being fought over by two companies claiming to offer the answers to their problems. So valuable is the prize that this week the battle - between a small British company and a big American firm - is moving to the High Court.
The US company, eFax.com, is on the verge of introducing a free service to Britain that enables internet users to route their faxes and voicemail through their email, so simplifying their message collection. It is a version of a product that has proved so successful in the US that 1.5 million subscribers have signed up in the first nine months of operation.
But the Nasdaq-quoted Silicon Valley business, which was founded in 1988 and last year had revenues of more than $30m (pounds 18.5m), is facing a challenge from the similarly named efax.co.uk, a small Yorkshire company that says it can offer the same sort of assistance in return for a small annual fee.
The two have been in talks for some time. But, with efax.co.uk claiming it is entitled to "a reasonable sum of money" as a result of the confusion over a name it says it had first, there is no agreement in sight. So on Tuesday the US firm, which until earlier this year was known as JetFax and provided specialist communications technology for electronics companies, is going to court. Susan Lazareff, its head of marketing for Europe, says the action is an attempt to de-fend its reputation and business. …