The National Association of Realtors has met a second milestone in a goal of raising $7.5 million in licensing fees to obtain blanket immunity for multiple listing services and Realtor associations from legal claims by a company that holds several patents on location-based Internet search techniques.
Under an agreement with CIVIX-DDI LLC announced in May, NAR has until Aug. 16 to raise the money from Realtor associations, MLSs and Commercial Information Exchanges (CIEs). NAR negotiated the agreement at the request of about 50 MLSs that sought to avoid the expense of litigation or reaching individual settlements with CIVIX.
The agreement included milestones for NAR to raise $2.5 million by June 16 and $5 million by July 17. So far, NAR has collected and paid more than $5 million to CIVIX, said NAR General Counsel Laurie Janik.
All associations, MLSs and CIEs that made payments in the first two rounds will receive licenses, Janik said. With the second milestone reached, NAR will continue to collect licensing fees in the hopes of obtaining blanket immunity for the industry as a whole.
If the $7.5 million threshold is reached, all associations and MLSs nationwide will receive blanket immunity from claims by CIVIX — regardless of whether they paid a licensing fee.
In some cases, MLS vendors are helping cover the licensing fees, which amount to $9.06 per user. During the first round of licensing that closed June 16, MLS Listings Inc. President and CEO Jim Harrison said that Tarasoft contributed to licensing fees paid by the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based MLS.
Greg Manship, CEO of Idaho-based Intermountain MLS, said vendor Lender Processing Services "made a contribution that is reflective to their commitment of doing the right thing for their customers."
Cameron Paine, CEO of Connecticut MLS Inc., thanked vendor CoreLogic "for their partnership in helping ensure the protection of CTMLS, our brokers (and) agents, and our vendors from this lawsuit."
Adirondack-Champlain Valley MLS CEO Laura Burns said vendor Systems Engineering Inc. "stepped up to the plate" and participated in initial discussions, legal briefings and the licensing payment for the Plattsburgh, N.Y.-based MLS.
One MLS without a vendor, Shrewsbury, Mass.-based MLS PIN, paid the entire licensing fee itself, President and CEO Kathy Condon said, thanking NAR "for negotiating a settlement that all MLS organizations could participate in."