JBGoodwin REALTORS® successfully defended the rights of real estate professionals in Texas against a suit brought on by patent troll Property Disclosure Technologies (or PDT). For those unfamiliar with patent trolls or patent holding companies, they are firms who purchase patents with the sole purpose of looking for, and suing companies in violation of those patents for financial gain. They do not produce intellectual property, nor do they conduct any original research or manufacturing. Most of their suits never make it to court, as the threat of hefty legal fees cause most defendants to settle out of court.
JBGoodwin REALTORS® VS Property Disclosure Technologies
JBGoodwin REALTORS® was sued, along with 12 other real estate industry leaders on January 2014 by PDT for allegedly infringing on patents obtained in 2009. PDT claimed that criteria-based real estate searches covered in their patents put all 13 companies in violation of copyright infringement. Based on this case, PDT could potentially file similar lawsuits against any Texas real estate broker using the IDX program through its local MLS.
Standing Up To PDT
By December 2014, 11 of the 13 defending companies had settled out of court with PDT. Soon after, PDT dropped their suit against Winans without a settlement, leaving JB Goodwin REALTORS® as the only remaining defending company in the lawsuit. Seeing the legal significance of this suit to the industry, the Texas Association of REALTORS® (TAR) and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) funded the defense, which decided against a settlement.
Challenge & Dismissal
Once it was made clear that they would have to go to court to pursue their infringement claims against JBGoodwin REALTORS®, PDT sought to have the case dismissed. J.B. Goodwin, with the help of TAR and NAR fought a bogus patent infringement claim, and won. Through his actions, he has bolstered industry cooperation, while setting the precedence for broker action against future copyright infringement claims by patent trolls. We salute J.B. for his courageous decision to fight PPT. The Texas real estate industry came out stronger as a result.