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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.


The National Association of REALTORS® is asking its over one million members to email their representatives in Congress and ask for their help in protecting the real estate industry from patent trolls.

A patent troll is a company that owns a large number of patents, but does not produce any goods or services. The patent troll business model is to sue companies for infringing on the patents it owns, or to license those patents to companies for legal use. These companies are suing REALTORS® and other small businesses for patent infringement based on their use of common business tools like drop-down menus or scan-to-email technologies.

Patent trolls target REALTORS® through letters threatening lawsuits or actually filing lawsuits. These letters demand licensing fees to use common business tools, such as drop down menus or shopping cart features on websites. For many of those targeted, paying for the license is often much less expensive than defending the lawsuit.

Patent trolls hurt the real estate industry. The Innovation Act will close loopholes in our legal system that allow patent trolls to go after businesses like yours.

If you are a REALTOR®, take action now. Just click HERE, or go to your REALTOR® Action Center App on your phone and tell Congress to Vote YES on H.R. 9- The Innovation Act.

Click the link below and tell YOUR member of Congress to STOP Patent Trolls today!


October 2020

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