Phew, you’re safe again. While we wait for lawmakers to stop patent trolls from filing frivolous lawsuits against honest businesses, NAR has once again stepped up to the plate to protect and shield the real estate industry from extortion attempts. NAR announced that they have agreed to a settlement with the National Data Distribution Technologies, LLC—a so-called patent troll that has been demanding patent licensing fees from real estate companies. The deal will prevent it from suing, or threatening to sue, real estate practitioners, brokerages, MLSs and other companies in the real estate industry that offer email alerts to consumers about new or updated listings. (In 2011 the Berkshire Board paid thousands of dollars to shield you from patent trolls from a NAR settlement with Civix.)
“The terms of the settlement agreement include a covenant not to sue . . . NAR members, local and state associations, MLSs, affiliates, and certain other NAR-related entities,” the company says in a statement it released jointly with NAR.
The company agreed to the settlement after NAR filed claims with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in Federal District Court challenging the validity of the company’s patent for technology that involves email updates to consumers about new and updated information on websites.
Data Distribution Technologies (DDT) is considered a non-practicing entity, or patent troll, because it does not invent or produce anything but instead acquires patent rights for the purposing of enforcing those patent rights on third parties. Patent trolls typically demand payment of a licensing fee from third parties in lieu of facing of facing an expensive, resource-consuming patent-infringement lawsuit.
Access earlier coverage of NAR’s patent challenge here.
NAR filed its challenge after the company sued three real estate firms and sent demand letters to many others demanding payment to use its patented technology. In its challenge, NAR argued the technology is “generic, garden variety” technology that doesn’t warrant patent protection.
“In response to our challenge, DDT agreed not to sue anyone in the real estate industry anymore under this patent,” says Ralph Holmen, NAR Associate General Counsel. “We’ve accepted that and resolved these matters.”
NAR will continue to work with lawmakers in Congress on statutory curbs to patent troll. Find out more on the patent troll issue on realtor.org.