Early Victory for Move, NAR in Court Battle With Zillow, Samuelson

“Move, Inc. and the National Association of REALTORS® earned a win Wednesday in their court battle against Zillow and Errol Samuelson, the former realtor.com® president who left to join Zillow in March as the company’s chief industry development officer. A Washington State Superior Court judge issued a preliminary injunction against Zillow and Samuelson, saying that Samuelson misappropriated trade secrets in his departure from Move.

The ruling said he had acquired the proprietary information relating to Move and NAR improperly and copied it without authorization. The injunction prohibits Samuelson from performing many of the duties that was hired for at Zillow.

Until the lawsuit is resolved, Samuelson cannot directly or indirectly use or disclose confidential information that he had previously obtained while working at Move. Specifically, he cannot attempt to acquire or develop data feeds from MLSs, real estate brokers, franchisors, or real estate associations. For six months, he is prevented from developing contact relationship management tools and taking part in strategic planning in its advertising, among other activities.

The lawsuit, brought by Move, NAR, and other subsidiaries shortly after Samuelson’s resignation, alleges that when Samuelson left, he misappropriated Move’s trade secret information and copied it without authorization, constituting a breach of his contract and fiduciary duties.

NAR applauds the ruling, noting its beneficial ramifications for association members and consumers. “It is a significant win for NAR, REALTORS®, Move, and realtor.com®. The ruling affirms the value of the information and tools that NAR and Move have created for REALTORS® and consumers, and denounces those who would misappropriate trade secrets for their own benefit. NAR works hard to provide member services and resources and will always be committed to protecting REALTORS®’ interests and their relationships with clients and consumers.”

Samuelson worked with Move for more than 10 years before resigning without notice on March 5 and joining its primary competitor, Zillow, on the same day. While at Move, Samuelson served as the primary contact with NAR and all high-level strategy, budgeting, and planning communications teams, according to the lawsuit, which Move Inc. and NAR filed on March 17.

Zillow has not yet commented publicly on the lawsuit.”

—By REALTOR® Magazine