With Great Technology Comes Great Responsibility

Earthcomber has filed lawsuits again 12 different real estate companies for allegedly infringing their patent of matching mobile searchers with geographical preferences.

The lawsuit includes large real estate parent companies, such as Trulia, Zillow and the National Association of Realtors, so the accusations could cause problems for a lot of property portals.

Earthcomber, a mobile app developer in Chicago, has filed two separate lawsuits concerning two different patents, both of which are related to the “system and method for locating and notifying a user of a person, place or thing having attributes matching the user’s stated preferences.”

The complaints read: “These patents also claim methods for converting resource information into digital information and providing that information to users.”

The specific methods that Earthcomber mention apparently refer to their technology that uses ZIP codes and other information to match users with locations, as opposed to solely relying upon GPS.

USA Today adds that following several previous lawsuits, “Earthcomber’s litigiousness has earned it a reputation in some circles as a patent troll”. The company argues that it is “a small business trying to protect its intellectual property from larger and deeper-pocketed companies”.

Whether the allegations are true or not, the lawsuit is a reminder of the importance of both innovation and caution when developing new technology for real estate marketing.

For a sobering demonstration of the extent to which it matters, the full list of named companies (complete with court documentation) is on AG Beat.