Zillow Countersues Move Inc., NAR

August 28, 2015

After receiving permission from a Seattle judge, Zillow has countersued Move Inc. and the National Association of REALTORS® for defamation. The countersuit stems from an anonymous whistleblower letter Move and NAR received in April, which alleged that Zillow had stolen realtor.com® databases in its possession and was hiding stolen intellectual property in cloud storage accounts. The letter was later revealed to be authored by former Zillow Vice President Chris Crocker. The letter included allegations of how Zillow illegally accessed IDX listing data from its subsidiary, Diverse Solutions, and scraped data from realtor.com®, which is owned and operated by Move. Zillow says Move and NAR defamed the company by publicizing the letter without ascertaining the credibility of its assertions, according to court documents.

Move and NAR have been tangled in a legal battle with Zillow over trade secrets for more than a year, filing a lawsuit against Zillow and former realtor.com® president Errol Samuelson in March 2014 after Samuelson defected to the real estate portal. Move and NAR later named former realtor.com® exec Curt Beardsley as a defendant and alleged that Samuelson and Beardsley each destroyed evidence prior to and after leaving for Zillow.

In its counterclaim, Zillow says the whistleblower letter contains statements that are intended to disparage the company and implies that it has participated in and intentionally benefited from multiple databases that Beardsley allegedly took with him when he left Move and routinely used in the course of his work for Zillow.

The countersuit also claims that Move and NAR interfered with Crocker's relationship with Zillow and helped him breach his confidentiality duty to the company. Zillow says the whistleblower letter revealed its protected trade secrets.

—REALTOR® Magazine