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November 2016

NAR prevails in dispute with patent troll

In what was hailed as a major victory for real estate and "a major victory against patent abuse," the National Association of REALTORS® and Data Distribution Technologies settled a lawsuit NAR filed in June over a patent dispute.

The settlement prevents "DDT," known by some as a patent troll, from suing, or threatening to sue, real estate practitioners, brokerages, MLSs, Move, Inc., and other companies in the real estate industry that offer email alerts to consumers about new or updated listings.

NAR, the country's largest trade association, filed the lawsuit in June asking a U.S. District Court to have DDT's patent on a "Web-updated database with record distribution by email" declared invalid and unenforceable. NAR's goal was to stop the company from sending threatening letters accusing Realtors of patent violation.

DDT received no money as part of the settlement, and it agreed not to enforce its patent in exchange for NAR abandoning efforts to invalidate it.

Commenting on the "precise result NAR" sought, Katie Johnson, the association's senior vice president and general counsel said, members "can continue to operate their businesses as usual without fear of litigation related to this patent."

Non-Realtor agents and brokers are also protected by the settlement, as are IDX listing website providers. Third-party listing websites unrelated to NAR, such as Zillow, are not covered.

DDT is a subsidiary of patent monetization firm General Patent Corporation.