MLSs face potential patent infringement liability

MLSs, vendors must decide whether to pay up for licensing agreement

WASHINGTON — The National Association of Realtors has taken a lead role in negotiating a proposed $7.5 million licensing agreement that’s intended to provide blanket protection for multiple listing services and the industry as a whole from patent infringement claims by a company that has already sued operator Move Inc. and two major MLSs.

The company, CIVIX-DDI LLC, filed a lawsuit in December 2005 against NAR, Move Inc. and The suit claimed Move and NAR had infringed on four patents by providing location-based search services on Move settled the suit in December 2009 for an undisclosed sum.

More recently, CIVIX has filed lawsuits against two of the nation’s largest MLSs — Illinois-based Midwest Real Estate Data LLC (MRED), and Maryland-based Metropolitan Regional Information Services Inc. (MRIS). MRIS and its lead MLS vendor, Tarasoft, chose to settle the lawsuit against them by entering into a licensing agreement with CIVIX.

In the last few weeks, many MLSs served by Rapattoni have received letters from CIVIX demanding they pay a licensing fee of $6 per member per year for four years.