Mobile real estate applications company Smarter Agent is creating a spinoff to license its growing stock of mobile-related patents, the company announced today.
Smarter Agent will divide itself into two companies: Smarter Agent Mobile to service the company’s mobile app customers, and a patent licensing company. The division will be complete either in March or April, said Philip Charles-Pierre, Smarter Agent’s chief marketing officer.
"The patent licensing company will be tasked with licensing and enforcement of six granted and five pending patents that cover a range of mobile search (and) discovery, mobile advertising and mobile personalization inventions," the company said.
The patent company will have its own team, allowing Smarter Agent Mobile’s staff to focus on the company’s mission, Charles-Pierre said.
"We are pleased to have a new structure in place where key personnel can focus solely on our customers and products," said Smarter Agent CEO Brad Blumberg in a statement. By the first quarter of this year, more than 250,000 agents will have access to the company’s mobile products and services, the company said.
"On the intellectual property side as new patents have been recently allowed, the independent patent licensing firm now has the ability to strike deals and monetize the patent portfolio," Blumberg added.
On Thursday, Smarter Agent and real estate data and technology firm CoreLogic announced they had signed a licensing agreement involving several patents held by Smarter Agent. Three of the patents are at issue in litigation involving several major real estate companies, including Zillow, Trulia, Move and ZipRealty, among others. CoreLogic is not involved in the litigation.
In March 2010, Smarter Agent filed a federal class-action lawsuit alleging that the companies named in the suit violated three of its technology patents, all of which allow users to access real estate information via a mobile device.
Smarter Agent subsequently filed similar patent infringement suits against a number of other real estate companies, including DoApp Inc., Goomzee Corp., Diverse Solutions, Market Leader, and ForSaleByOwner.com, among others.
The licensing agreement between CoreLogic and Smarter Agent includes the three patents, as well as other patents. The companies described the deal as a broad patent license that covers a wide range of mobile apps. CoreLogic declined to specify the time period covered in the agreement and the products it will be using the license for.
"We are always looking to provide the best, most innovative products to our customers, and this agreement with Smarter Agent enhances our ability to deliver on that promise and to provide mobile data solutions to our clients," said Ben Graboske, senior vice president of real estate and financial services for CoreLogic, in a statement.
CoreLogic spokesman Chris Cosentino said the agreement was not the result of litigation.
"CoreLogic was never sued nor was ever under a threat of a lawsuit," he said.
Charles-Pierre said CoreLogic and Smarter Agent "are well known to each other" and "thought this was a good way to avoid litigation and maintain a good relationship."
Smarter Agent is pursuing similar licensing agreements with other companies and signed an agreement with a large, publicly traded homebuilder in January, Charles-Pierre said.
Blumberg said half of the patent licensing dollars the company receives go to operations and expansion of its mobile products, and half go to intellectual property matters, such as developing more innovative patents and patent enforcement.
"We are projecting substantial licensing revenue in 2013," he said.
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