BrokerageIndustry News

Mapping-patent holders seek to broaden lawsuit against Realtors

Countersuit charges that patent backers violated RICO laws

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The backers of a mapping-patent infringement lawsuit filed against a Pennsylvania Realtor are seeking to expand the lawsuit to include active participants in a regional multiple listing service and those Realtors who purchased enhanced features for property listings at the property-search Web site. Meanwhile, a countersuit is proceeding that alleges patent backers violated federal racketeering laws by threatening agents with lawsuits if they did not purchase licenses for the mapping technology. The lawsuits are significant for the real estate industry, as property-search mapping applications are ubiquitous on the Web these days. The National Association of Realtors has already committed about $825,000 to help defend Sarkisian against the patent-infringement allegations. Despite the trade group's opposition to the lawsuit, some real estate companies associated with Realtors -- such as Envirian and LendingTree, have purchased licenses. Real Estate Alliance Ltd., a company bas...