Realtor.com® Lands 11-Year Industry Win Over Patent Troll
November 9, 2018
The U.S. Supreme Court’s denial to move forward on a patent infringement case involving real estate mapping technology has brought the lengthy legal fight—which had been happening for more than a decade—to a close this week.
The Real Estate Alliance Ltd. sought hundreds of millions of dollars in licensing fees from the real estate industry’s use of a technology for locating available real estate for sale or lease using a database of properties and then using a “zooming” technique to display the approximate location on a map. REAL claimed a patent to the technology and infringement from Move Inc., and later declared the National Association of REALTORS®, the National Association of Home Builders, and many brokers, agents, rental property managers, MLSs, and technology companies to be in violation.
Lower counts found the patent infringement accusations to be invalid, and the Supreme Court’s decision on Nov. 5 to reject the case marked the conclusion to the 11-year legal fight. Further, the court’s dismissal of the Move Inc. case also freed brokers, agents, and MLSs of any potential liability or infringement fears.
“This is a win not only for Move and realtor.com®, but also the entire real estate industry,” says Move CEO Ryan O’Hara. “REAL used the patent litigation system to target real estate professionals and companies who were engaging consumers in today’s dynamic online environment. We are very proud to have championed this cause in support of the real estate industry, and the successful resolution of this case will benefit the professionals in that industry and the consumers they serve.”
In 2005, REAL sued a real estate broker and Move customer, accusing them of patent infringement. They created a class of patent infringement defendants, which included realtor.com® customers. Move then sued REAL in April 2007 to dispute claims that realtor.com® and other real estate–related websites infringed on REAL-owned patents related to online real estate property searches.
“When this patent troll sued brokers, agents, and MLSs across the country in a class-action lawsuit more than 10 years ago, realtor.com® stepped up on their behalf to fight this infringement claim,” said Katie Johnson, NAR’s general counsel and chief member experience officer. “Those defendants waited on the sidelines while realtor.com® took on the burden and expense of litigating this case to its bitter end. Because of realtor.com®, those members and MLSs named as defendants will not have to incur expenses related to this lawsuit, and this patent troll can no longer target our industry.”
Updated: November 16, 2018