Join the battle against patent trolls

By Kevin Juliano, CAE, RCE | Aug. 28, 2015 | 2 min. read

Have you been affected by so-called “patent trolls?” You probably have, even if you don’t know it.

A patent troll is a person or company that collects patents not to manufacture or produce things, but to sue people and extract settlements. They’re often tech-based, so much of what Realtors® do on a day-to-day basis puts you in jeopardy of being targeted by patent trolls.

For example, Realtors® like you have received demand letters from patent trolls over the process of scanning and emailing documents. In 2011, NAR facilitated a $7.5 million dollar settlement over online search technology, which many MLSs contributed to.

“Anyone, at any time could get a demand letter based on any portion of their business that uses technology,” advised Cheri Andrews, Esq., general counsel for TREND MLS.

A decade ago, a Pennsylvania Realtor® who belongs to TREND MLS was targeted by Real Estate Alliance Ltd, (REAL) simply for using the MLS’s zoom mapping method.

TREND MLS stepped in to defend. NAR, PAR and other state and local associations contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to help offset the costs of that litigation, which is technically still not completed. Subsequently, NAR and other allies were fighting REAL in California courts and spending as much or more on that case. That’s a lot of money that the associations and MLSs could have used for other purposes.

“The case against [our member] has been stayed pending the outcome of the REAL litigation in California, but an important fact remains: every business professional that uses technology is a target for patent trolls,” Andrews continued.

This very real example of a patent troll demanding fees from Realtors® in Pennsylvania is the all the more reason to take action on the latest Call-for-Action. The National Association of Realtors® supports H.R. 9, the Innovation Act which is designed to stop patent trolls and protect the real estate industry from frivolous lawsuits. This Call-For-Action is designed to urge our U.S. representatives to also support the Innovation Act.

Stopping this abuse of the system at the source is the best way to protect your business, so if you haven’t done so already, respond to the Call-for-Action today.

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