The National Association of RealtorsÂ® is declaring a major victory against patent abuse in a settlement with Data Distribution Technologies, a subsidiary of the patent enforcement firm General Patent Corporation. DDT sued and threatened several real estate businesses in the past over use of a technology-related patent, but NAR challenged the patentâ€™s validity before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and filed a declaratory judgement lawsuit on behalf of NAR members.
NARâ€™s advocacy on behalf of its membership culminated in a settlement requiring DDT to refrain from enforcing its patent in the real estate industry; the covenant included in the settlement specifically notes that NAR members, associations, MLSs, affiliates, and other related entities are protected from potentially costly litigation.
Tom Salomone, NAR president and broker-owner of Real Estate II Inc. in Coral Springs, Florida, doubled down on the associationâ€™s commitment to combating patent abuse and called the settlement a win for RealtorsÂ®.Â â€śWhen RealtorsÂ® fall victim to abuses in the patent system, NAR is going to have their back,â€ť he said. â€śWeâ€™re hopeful that todayâ€™s settlement will remind patent trolls across the country that this type of exploitation is unacceptable and wonâ€™t go unanswered.â€ť
DDT claimed their patent, titled, â€śWeb-Updated Database With Record Distribution By Email,â€ť covered systems that provide agents and consumers with online searchable real estate databases that can update users via email about new information that comes available on those databases. NAR considered DDTâ€™s patent invalid and enforcement of it an overly broad and thinly-veiled effort to exploit real estate businesses for licensing fees with the threat of high-cost litigation.
Although the settlement marks a victory for NAR, Salomone acknowledged that additional work is required to broadly reform the patent system. â€śNAR believes in the protection of legitimate intellectual property rights, but weâ€™re ready and willing to invalidate frivolous patent claims aimed at our members,â€ť he said. â€śTo fully defend business owners across the country, however, we need significant reforms to the system that offer robust protections against patentÂ Â trolls. Weâ€™re urging legislators to take a hard look at that in the months ahead.â€ť
NAR has long supported efforts in Congress to make common sense patent litigation reforms that foster innovation and investment while benefiting the whole of the American economy.
According to NAR, 2015 saw the most patent disputes in history, with patent trolls composing nearly 67 percent of patent litigation that same year.
For more information, visit www.realtor.org.