MLS & AssociationsTechnology

Agents and brokers freed from threat of listing alert-related patent lawsuits

NAR drops patent challenges in exchange for agreement to hold fire against real estate industry
  • The National Association of Realtors and Data Distribution Technologies have settled a lawsuit NAR filed in June seeking to invalidate DDT's patent.
  • Under the terms of the settlement, DDT has agreed to no longer enforce its patent in the real estate industry in exchange for NAR dropping its challenges against the patent. DDT received no money as part of the deal.

It's a scenario that could qualify under "worst nightmares." A real estate broker receives a letter accusing him or her of violating a patent over something many real estate websites do: sending an email alert when a website is updated with a property that matches a user’s desired criteria. Unless the broker pays up for a license, the patent owner threatens to sue. The National Association of Realtors has made a deal to ensure its members and others in the real estate industry don't receive that threat any longer. In June, the 1.2-million member trade group filed a lawsuit against Data Distribution Technologies, LLC requesting that its patent on a "Web-updated database with record distribution by email" be declared invalid and unenforceable by a U.S. District Court. Leading up to the lawsuit, NAR filed what’s known as an Inter Partes Review petition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office requesting that it review the validity of the same patent. Now, ...