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Zillow sues Trulia in new patent lawsuit [exclusive]

Zillow’s Zestimates have long been in the spotlight in the real estate industry, but will now be the center of attention during a potential patent trial.

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Zillow, Inc. v. Trulia, Inc.

Two real estate media companies are about to go head to head in a lawsuit filed today by Zillow, alleging Trulia has infringed on Zillow’s patented technology that valuates properties, known as Zestimates, by launching “Trulia Estimates” for public consumption.

Zillow filed for the patent in February of 2006 and was granted in June of 2011, U.S. Patent Number 7,970,764 for an invention entitled “Automatically Determining A Current ValueFor A Real Estate Property, Such As A Home, That Is Tailored To Input From A HumanUser, Such As Its Owner.”

Filed in the U.S. District Court of Western Washington at Seattle, this lawsuit says, “When Trulia first launched Trulia Estimates, it was obvious tocommentators that Trulia was merely copying Zillow. Commentators accused Trulia of being a “copycat” of Zillow’s Zestimate service and predicted that Trulia’s copycat versionmight “ding” Zillow’s web traffic.”

Zillow seeks permanent injunction, damages

Of particular note is the patent lawsuit’s reference to Trulia’s recent S-1 filing for IPO status with the U.S. Securitites and Exchange Commission, in which Trulia refers to their Estimates as part of their efforts to raise $75 million.

“Trulia’s acts of infringement have caused damage to Zillow, and Zillow isentitled to recover from Trulia the damages sustained by Zillow as a result of Trulia’s wrongful acts in an amount subject to proof at trial.”

In addition to damages being sought in the amount to be determined during the demanded jury trial, Zillow is seeking a permanent injunction, which could effectively end Trulia Estimates if a court sides with Zillow.

Full lawsuit:

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. DannyDietl

    September 12, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    @JimDuncan #zillow revolutionized what, crappy data? @zillow @ZillowforPros

  2. Jason Sandquist

    September 12, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    As real estate agents front the bill….

  3. Gary McNinch

    September 13, 2012 at 12:01 am

    I wonder if the amount of damages that Zillow requests will be an “estimate” that is as accurate (LOL) as their original Zestimates! LOL

  4. Matthew Parrish

    September 13, 2012 at 1:07 am

    When the going gets tough, sue the competition!

  5. nicwinder

    September 13, 2012 at 1:34 am

    @andrearealtor Wait, zestimates inaccuracies doesn’t hurt zillow enough on its own and trulia can damage zillow further? That’s crazy.

    • AndreaRealtor

      September 13, 2012 at 8:15 am

      @nicwinder I don’t believe what one’s opinion is of the Zestimate is a fact in the litigation?

  6. Michael DeFilippi

    September 13, 2012 at 8:07 am

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Very negative move by Zillow.

  7. rqd

    September 13, 2012 at 9:57 am

    First American/CoreLogic sued Zillow for the Zestimate saying it violated FACL’s patent for AVM.  Zillow settled and paid for a license.  I’m not sure if Trulia was also named in FACL’s lawsuit but if they were, would a settlement with FACL play in Trulia’s favor? laniar 

  8. Jonathan Cardella

    September 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    This is a desperate and thinly veiled strategy by Zillow to derail Trulia’s IPO, as evidenced by the timing of the complaint. Zillow has known about Trulia’s AVMs for over a year, yet waited until the IPO filing to file its suit.
    While this is merely conjecture on my part, it is highly unlikely that this is a mere coincidence. The intention behind the timing of this suit must be to diminish the value of Trulia in the minds of investors, thereby sabotaging the IPO at a time when Trulia is most vulnerable. If I am correct in my assumptions, this is a disgusting tactic that should be met with a fierce counter-complaint by Trulia, especially if the IPO or valuation collapses before it comes to fruition.
    Further, if Trulia’s AVM feature was truly damaging to Zillow, they would have filed claim by October, perhaps November last year and then amended their complaint as needed, once they got their ducks in a row. This smacks of litigation filed in bad faith, in my untrained opinion (I am not a lawyer).
    Zillow’s AVM patent is a perfect example of the nonsense coming out of the USPTO. In order to be eligible for patent protection, a patent must be New or Novel, Useful, and Non-Obvious. Zillow’s patent only fulfills one of those requirements (usefulness). Brokers and appraisers have been doing property valuations/”CMAs” for many decades, as have appraisers, albeit they were done manually. Simply automating this process does not make it new or novel. And I would love to hear Zillow argue that an AVM was non-obvious in 2006. In fact, institutional investors have been using AVM technology since the late 1990’s.
    The USPTO routinely errs in granting patents that do no comport with US IP laws. A patent isn’t “hardened” until it is challenged via litigation. This is the first litigation involving the Zillow AVM patent and Trulia attorneys will attack this patent for not meeting these requirements. Only after this case will we know if Zillow has a patent that will stick.
    In conclusion, this case will be interesting because it will likely see the Zillow patent over-turned and a cross complaint from Trulia for any damages that result from the malicious timing and motivations behind this suit that seemingly go far beyond protecting IP, which is a recurrent theme in this industry, as I have learned first hand. And hopefully this skirmish will underscore the need for meaningful IP Reform in the US.
     

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How to apply to be on a Board of Directors

(BUSINESS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.

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What?
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”

Why?
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.

We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.

Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:

1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.

As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.

When?
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).

The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.

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Average age of successful startup founders is 45, but stop stereotyping

(BUSINESS) Our culture glorifies (yet condemns?) startup founders as rich 20-somethings in hoodies, but some are a totally different type.

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startup founders average age is 45

There’s a common misconception that startups are riddled with semi-nerdy, 20-something white dudes who do nothing but sip Nitro Brews and walk around the open office showing off the hoodie they wore yesterday. It turns out that it’s extremely rare that startup offices resemble The Social Network.

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The study continues to answer questions like, why do Venture Capitalist investors bet on young founders? This goes back to the misconception at the start, and there’s a notion that youth is the key for successful entrepreneurship. Wrong.

There is also the idea that younger entrepreneurs are likely working with less financial options, so it may be common for them to take something from a VC at a lower price. As a result, they could be viewed as more of a bargain than older founders.

“The next step for researchers is to explore what exactly explains the advantage of middle-aged founders,” writes Pierre Azoulay, et al. “For example, is it due to greater access to financial resources, deeper social networks, or certain forms of experience? In the meantime, it appears that advancing age is a powerful feature, not a bug, for starting the most successful firms.”

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Today’s sexual harassment issues require more modern training

(BUSINESS NEWS) It’s unfortunate that sexual harassment still exists in the modern-day, but we have easier access to resources to curb this behavior.

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sexual harassment

What do you think about the #MeToo movement? Some people erroneously believe that #MeToo is about getting men fired or bringing down powerful men. #MeToo is more about raising awareness of the long-standing problem of sexual violence and harassment, not only in the workplace but in everyday situations.

Thanks to #MeToo, state and federal laws are changing to address the systemic problems. Keeping up with regulations around sexual harassment in the workplace doesn’t have to be an issue. EasyLLama makes it easy for your business to stay compliant with modern training for your team.

What is EasyLlama?

EasyLlama is a company based in San Francisco. It has a goal “to give companies the tools to reinforce their values, and to empower them to create a safe and comfortable work environment for everyone.” The company bills itself as the “smart way to train your team on sexual harassment.”

The training was created by HR experts that go beyond state and federal requirements to make your workplace safe from sexual misconduct and harassment. It’s been designed to speak to every generation on your team, from Baby Boomers to millennials.

It features 5 to 10-minute micro-sessions with real-life relatable videos that can be watched individually or in a team session. Tracking individual progress is easy through the platform. Employees get email/text reminders to take the next steps in their training. Training is available in both English and Spanish. It’s designed for the modern and mobile workforce. The system can also integrate with HR tools that reduces time spent on data entry and follow up.

Empower your team with resources to prevent sexual harassment

#MeToo isn’t going to go away. The movement is reframing the discussion about sexual misconduct, gender and power. EasyLlama is one tool that can help your team be more aware of behavior that puts your business at risk.

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