The NAR has filed a petition with the U.S. Patent Office challenging patent infringement claims by companies that demand payment from real estate companies for “old and widely available” technology.
The action was taken to protect real estate professionals who are allegedly being victimized by “patent trolls,” according to the NAR. One company singled out is Data Distribution Technologies (DDT), which has sent letters to real estate companies demanding payment for infringing on its patent. But DDT is considered a “patent troll,” NAR reports, because its “business” is buying over-broad patents and sending “license letters” to users of the products.
“With this action, we’re telling the company and other patent trolls that our industry won’t tolerate these kinds of tactics against innocent real estate professionals who use well-known, ordinary technologies and business methods,” said NAR Associate General Counsel Ralph Holmen. “We intend to help protect members from being forced into cost-of-litigation settlements based on over-broad, invalid patents.”
NAR filed what is known as an Inter Partes Review (IPR) petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. While the IPR is pending, most courts will stay any related litigation under the same patent. A win for NAR will make it difficult for the company to proceed against other real estate companies with similar over-broad patent claims.
“We’re sending a message to this company, and more broadly to any company that relies on over-broad, invalid patents coupled with illegitimate ‘troll’ patent litigation tactics to make money, that the real estate industry is prepared to fight back,” Holmen said.
The Patent Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board is expected to respond to the Petition in about four months.