AgentBrokerage

California Realtors file $136M copyright suit against tech firm

Company says lawsuit is 'part of a pattern of threatening activity'
  • The California Association of Realtors has filed a $136 million lawsuit against PDFfiller, alleging the tech firm has copied, published and sold CAR's copyrighted transaction forms without permission.
  • PDFfiller says CAR's allegations have no merit and its complaint is "part of a pattern of threatening activity" toward small software companies. CAR's electronic transaction forms are only available via a software company in which CAR has a majority stake.
  • CAR's forms are free with CAR membership. Agents may be trying to get around paying CAR dues by using PDFfiller, CAR said.

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One of the main reasons real estate agents and brokers join Realtor associations is to access the transaction forms they need to buy and sell homes. But what if the forms are available elsewhere, and they cost less than association dues would? The California Association of Realtors has filed a federal lawsuit against Massachusetts-based PDFfiller Inc., alleging the tech firm has copied, published and sold at least 64 of CAR's copyrighted real estate forms "many hundreds of thousands of times, and possibly millions of times" through its website without authorization. Los Angeles-based CAR is the largest state Realtor association in the nation, at about 170,000 members. Members receive CAR's transaction forms at no additional cost with their membership. The trade group's complaint alleges copyright infringement, trademark infringement and unfair trade practices and asks for at least $136 million in statutory damages. According to the complaint, PDFfiller and two of it...