The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® is moving forward with a negotiated licensing opportunity on behalf of the real estate industry with CIVIX-DDI, LLC, the owner of technology patents at issue in several lawsuits against MLSs in the past few years.
Although the patent claims by CIVIX on location-based Internet search techniques are broad, several of its lawsuits have ended in settlements. NAR and Move Inc. settled with CIVIX in 2009 over the operation of REALTOR.com. More recently, Maryland-based Metropolitan Regional Member Support Inc. settled its lawsuit by entering into a licensing agreement with CIVIX in 2011. CIVIX has already settled infringement litigation it brought against Microsoft and Expedia.
At NAR’s midyear meetings, NAR General Counsel Laurie Janik and industry consultant Ann Bailey presented how the licensing opportunity could resolve all potential outstanding and future claims by CIVIX against REALTOR® -associations, MLSs, and MLS system vendors, as well as brokers and agents.
For the resolution to be completely effective, NAR will need to raise $7.5 million from MLSs. The funds will be used to obtain licenses under the CIVIX patents, which would enable holders to avoid claims of patent infringement. Under the terms of the agreement, all MLSs and associations may be licensed to use the CIVIX patents in perpetuity for a one-time fee of $9.06 per paying subscriber. However, a strict payment schedule applies. NAR raised the initial $2.5 million from MLSs by June 15, making the licenses of those MLSs who paid the fee effective and permanent. The agreement calls for NAR to raise an additional $2.5 million from MLSs by July 17, and if that goal is met, the final payment of $2.5 million is due Aug. 15.
Specific details on the proposed resolution, a recorded podcast discussion, a Q&A, and instructions for payment, plus more resources to assist MLSs in making a decision to participate in the settlement, are posted on REALTOR .org, search “CIVIX.”