Update 3/7: The folks at Inman.com (a real estate publication) dug into the cryptic note I mentioned last week (below) and explain what’s going on. Recall that the owner of a mapping search patent, Real Estate Alliance Ltd., is suing a Pennsylvania Realtor, Diane Sarkisian, for patent infringement because she used some software that it’s alleged infringes on the patent. Her case has been supported by the National Association of Realtors. (Directions covered the case in detail here.)
So, what’s new?
The plaintiff filed a motion to expand the suit, to make it a class action. The hope is to add “15,000 members of the Delaware Valley Real Estate Information Network, also known as TREND MLS [multple listing service], and ‘at least tens of thousands’ of users of the Realtor.com Web site who subscribed to enhanced features to market properties at that site since July 12, 1999” to the suit. The plaintiff argues that Sarkisian is a representative of this group. The plaintiffs note that they could take action against other MLSs later.
The defendant launched a countersuit arguing that Scott Tatro (the fellow who sent the e-mail below) “worked in concert with REAL officials in a racketeering scheme that sought to collect licensing money from agents.” Tatro holds a license to the patent and can sell his service, http://www.findahome.com, built on it. The base of the countersuit: the scheme violates the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
What’s happening now?
The defense will respond to the class action filing. The court will decide if the case is be class action or not. That may occur before or after the case goes to full trial, as I understand it.
The countersuit is on a different track, though it may be linked to the original case. I believe the court makes that decision.
—Original post 3/1—-
Scott Tatro sent this update on the status of the case:
On February 28th in the Federal Court of the Eastern District of PA, the patent holder in this case filed a Class Action Motion.
The court has further ordered submission of Summary Judgment Motions on next Wednesday March 7th.
I need to do some digging to figure out what this is about.
Tatro cites the website fully licensed with documents related to this and other related cases.