Directions Magazine has been following the legal battle over a mapping patent held by Real Estate Alliance Ltd. (REAL) since 2005. The lawsuit started with a single Philadelphia agent and her use of mapping software and turned into quite a production before a ruling of non-infringement came in 2010. In this article, Executive Editor Adena Schutzberg summarizes the actions since that time.
When last I wrote about the Move, Inc., et al. vs. REAL Inc lawsuit, in July 2010, the court had found that Move and its co-defendants had not infringed on the REAL patent.
A commenter to that piece highlighted that the federal circuit court ruled on REAL’s appeal of that decision on March 22, 2011 (Leagle.com). The appeals court vacated and remanded the 2010 decision. That is, it overturned the verdict and sent the case back to the originating court.
The commenter asked that I find out the latest on the suit, which does have serious implications for use in the mapping sector. If you are not familiar with the patent or the lawsuit, you might want to start with this article on the matter from 2005.
So, what happened after that March 22, 2011 judgment? Inman.com reported in Aug. 2011 (full text here) that court-ordered mediation had failed. Move, Inc. also tried to push a court date forward, pending a second case against Akamai Technologies, which may have bearing on the REAL case. The judge did not allow such postponement.
After that, my trail went cold. There was no further coverage by Inman, the real estate publisher, nor any indication of further trials or decisions. But I did find one reference to another summary judgment on January 26, 2012. I found it in a PowerPoint by a lawyer from the National Association of Realtors, one of the organizations on Move, Inc.’s side.
She brought me up to speed.
This case has been to the court of appeals twice. The court of appeal issued its first decision in March of 2011. After additional proceedings in the district court, the district court judge entered summary judgment in our [Move, Inc., et al] favor a second time. That favorable ruling came in January of this year. It is currently on appeal [by REAL].
So, the current state is that Move, Inc. and its co-defendants, along with the entire mapping community, are not considered to be infringing on REAL’s patent. But, of course, that’s on appeal, so things could flip back yet again.