Dotloop says it knows identity of alleged hacker, is seeking settlement outside of court

Lawsuit against 'John Doe' dismissed, CAR says it was never subpoenaed

Transaction management company dotloop Inc. says it knows the identify of the person who allegedly “hacked” into the company’s computer system, but has voluntarily dismissed a federal lawsuit it filed nearly a year ago against them while it pursues a settlement.

Dotloop initiated the suit in June 2013, alleging an anonymous individual (“John Doe”) had posed as an administrator for one of dotloop’s biggest clients, Keller Williams, under the name “Ian Dawtnapstur” and had “unlawfully hacked into dotloop’s computer system and proceeded to unlawfully upload and download forms stored on that system.”

Anonymous image via Shutterstock.
Anonymous image via Shutterstock.

In late August, a U.S. district court gave dotloop permission to subpoena the California Association of Realtors, Kirkland, Wash.-based Northwest Multiple Listing Service, Instanet Solutions and Google Inc. for information regarding the identity of the alleged hacker. Instanet and CAR, which owns forms software provider zipLogix, are dotloop competitors.

None of the four companies were named as defendants in the suit. At the time, however, dotloop CEO Austin Allison alleged that the hacking appeared to be “a malicious and coordinated attempt” between CAR, NWMLS and Instanet to “disparage our name and reputation,” an action he attributed to resistance to innovation from entrenched industry players.

In a Feb. 27 court filing, dotloop said it had recently learned the hacker’s true identity as a result of the third-party discovery allowed by the court, and it informed the court that counsel for dotloop and counsel for the defendant were in discussions to settle the case.

“If the parties are unable to settle this matter shortly, plaintiff will likely amend the complaint to correct the defendant’s true identity,” the filing said.

In the dismissal, filed April 3, the defendant in the case is still listed as “John Doe.”

“The perpetrator did come forward and admit fault. We have not yet come to a settlement and would prefer at this point not to comment on the nature of the relationship between the individual perpetrator and the other entities mentioned in the complaint,” dotloop spokesman Dan O’Mahony told Inman News, referring to CAR, NWMLS and Instanet.

“We dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, which allows us to refile the case if this matter is not resolved to our satisfaction.”

Dotloop declined to name the hacker, identify which of the four companies it had subpoenaed, or say which company had provided the identity of the hacker.

The suit was filed just days after a controversy erupted surrounding CAR’s decision to refuse to license its real estate transaction forms to dotloop, thereby prohibiting dotloop users from filling out the association’s copyrighted forms using dotloop’s software.

CAR, the largest state Realtor association in the country, cited intellectual property and security concerns in making its decision.

In a statement sent to Inman News, CAR said it was “pleased, but not at all surprised, that dotloop dismissed its own action” and that CAR was never a party in the case, never subpoenaed, and never even contacted by dotloop’s counsel after the court’s order allowing third-party discovery.

“CAR always had concerns with unauthorized use of its forms, and that concern remains,” the statement said. “But CAR uses legitimate means to police and discover those promoting misuse or infringing on its forms and will continue to do so vigorously. CAR hopes all vendors will adopt an approach of respect for others’ property, whether it is intellectual property or software.”

NWMLS and Instanet Solutions did not respond to requests for comment.


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