Zillow and realtor.com® operator Move have settled their two-year long, contentious trade secrets lawsuit, it was announced Monday, with Zillow agreeing to pay its industry rival $130 million. The settlement, detailed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, is far less than the initial $2 billion Move had initially claimed in damages. The trial was originally set to begin today.
According to SEC documents, the receipt of the agreed-upon settlement of $130 million to be paid to Move, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and “three related entities,” puts an end to one of the industry’s most notable lawsuits ever. The filing states that the parties have agreed to dismiss all claims and counterclaims with prejudice, and the settlement agreement does not contain any admission of liability, wrongdoing, or responsibility by any of the parties.
To view the full SEC filing, click here.
According to statements released by both Zillow and Move, both companies were pleased to have the litigation behind them.
“Today, we reached an amicable resolution to settle our lawsuit with News Corp and the National Association of Realtors,” Zillow said in a statement. “The agreement allows us to put this litigation behind us, and continue our focus on innovation and the huge opportunity in front of us as the consumer-focused market leader.”
According to Move, “We are pleased to have reached an amicable resolution of this litigation. We look forward to putting the matter to rest and returning our full focus to simplifying the real estate process for consumers and the real estate professionals who serve them.”
“We are pleased that Zillow has agreed to a settlement amount of $130 million in damages instead of going to trial, and that the parties have reached an amicable resolution,” said NAR in a statement. “NAR’s relationship with Move, Inc., and realtor.com® is based on a mutual respect for Realtors® and their efforts to bring online home buying and selling resources to consumers. Move will receive the bulk of these funds; it is NAR’s hope that they will invest this money in initiatives that enhance the consumer experience on realtor.com® and benefit our members in support of the Realtor® brand. NAR will receive 10 percent of the settlement payment after Move deducts its legal fees; Move covered the costs of the lawsuit. After this amount is determined, NAR’s Leadership Team will consider how best to apply those funds in service of NAR’s Realtor® members; we will share that information as soon as a decision is made.”
In the most recent developments before the settlement, in pre-trial rulings last week, the Seattle judge reduced the potential damages against Zillow from $2 billion to $1.6 or $1.7 billion. And last month, the judge denied Move’s motion for saction against Zillow but did sanction Zillow exec Curt Beardsley by issuing an “adverse instruction” to jurors, or informing them that evidence is missing or has been destroyed.
The lengthy hearing has been ongoing since 2014 when Move, Inc., filed a claim that former Move execs Curt Beardsley and Errol Samuelson, stole trade secrets and destroyed documents when they left the company to join Zillow. While the lawsuit had contained several different allegations, it was the acquisition of Trulia by Zillow in 2015 that became one of the main points of contention in the dispute. Trulia, at the time was one of the three largest real estate portals in the industry and according to Move, Trulia was a potential strategic acquisition target. According to charges claimed in the suit, Move’s efforts to acquire Trulia were severely hindered by the resignation of Beardsley and Samulson, the two key Move executives familiar with Move’s strategic plans who had been hired away by Zillow during this time. Zillow then acquired Trulia for approximately $3.5 billion in 2015 in a stock-for-stock transaction.
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