The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) successfully beat a patent troll threatening real estate offices. Data Distribution Technologies (DDT) sued and threatened several real estate businesses over the use of a technology related patent.

DDT claimed their patent, titled “Web-Updated Database With Record Distribution by Email,” 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 challenged the patent’s validity before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and filed a declaratory judgment lawsuit on behalf of its members.

Under a settlement agreement, DDT must refrain from enforcing its patent in the real estate industry. The settlement also specifically protects NAR members, associations, MLSes, affiliates, and other related entities from potentially costly litigation.

Patent trolls are companies that own a large quantity of patents. Often, they do not produce any goods. The business model is to just own patents and sue or threaten to sue anyone for patent infringement. As small business owners, REALTORS® are exposed to these threats of litigation, often for using basic business technology like drop-down website menus, mapping features and online checkout carts or scan-to-email technologies.

NAR supports significant patent law reform in order to prevent overbroad patents and unfair litigation.

 

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