Listingbook files patent infringement suit against Market Leader

Complaint seeks monetary damages and permanent injunction against rival CRM's alleged infringement

Patent as generator of wealth image via Shutterstock.Patent as generator of wealth image via Shutterstock.

Real estate technology firm Listingbook LLC has filed a lawsuit against real estate marketing software company Market Leader Inc., alleging Market Leader’s customer relationship management platform infringes on a patent awarded to Listingbook’s founders.

Listingbook announced the suit just a week after Market Leader settled three investor lawsuits related to its pending sale to Trulia.

In the complaint, filed July 18 in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of North Carolina, Greensboro, N.C.-based Listingbook alleges that Market Leader’s customer relationship management platform directly infringes on U.S. Patent 7,454,355, titled “Method and system for providing real estate information using a computer network, such as the Internet,” filed by Listingbook founders Bob and Joan Milman nearly 13 years ago.

“Bob and Joan realized that their online system represented a very special way for agents and clients to search and collaborate, and to develop their relationships,” said Randall Kaplan, Listingbook’s CEO, in a statement.

Listingbook offers an online technology platform and client management system that integrates with 70 multiple listing services in the U.S. More than 175,000 agents have Listingbook accounts, and Listingbook’s home search site receives more than 1 million unique visitors each month, the company said.

In its announcement, the company said that Market Leader, through its Market Leader Professional product, provides a rival online customer relationship management system “which not only is a direct infringement of the ‘355 patent, but also actively induces its customers to infringe through their use of the system.”

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Kaplan told Inman News he could not provide additional details about the technology Listingbook alleges Market Leader has infringed upon because of the pending suit.

Listingbook, which launched a broker lead-management tool last November, seeks monetary damages and a permanent injunction against the Market Leader technology it says infringes on its patent.

“We have invested substantial resources in our patented technology, and we filed this suit against Market Leader to protect that investment,” Kaplan said.

Market Leader did not respond to a request for comment by publication time. The company has until Sept. 13 to file a legal response to the complaint.

In May, Trulia signed a definitive agreement with Market Leader to acquire the firm for $355 million. That acquisition was challenged by three investor lawsuits that alleged, in part, that Market Leader’s board of directors didn’t shop the firm around to get the best deal for shareholders before approving the proposed acquisition and failed to provide shareholders with important information regarding the merger in public filings. The suits were ultimately settled, though Market Leader admitted no wrongdoing.

Trulia and Market Leader have both said they expect the acquisition to go through sometime in the third quarter.

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