An organization named CIVIX-DDI began filing claims last year, stating that any software that allowed people to locate, search and share information about real estate was an infringement on patents they owned. They began to sue large companies such as Microsoft and Expedia, as well as individual real estate firms throughout the country. Multiple Listing Services and Commercial Information Exchanges, such as CRCPE, were also deemed an infringement of the patent. Any real estate company that listed properties on their website was also found liable and could find charges filed against them.
As a result of numerous requests from Boards of REALTORS® throughout the country, the National Association of REALTORS® entered into a licensing agreement with CIVIX-DDI, LLC, protecting MLS’ and CIE’s, and their subscribing members. If NAR were to raise the amount of $7.5 million from local systems, CIVIX would cease all filings against subscribers. Due to the extent of the funds needed, a number of protection clauses were set in place, should NAR not raise the amount in its entirety. Three payment installments would be formed, with the first deadline set in mid-June. If NAR raised at least 2.5 million in the first request, all associations who contributed during this first call for action would receive protection, and CIVIX would be unable to file claims against the association, the CIE provider, or any individual company that is a REALTOR® member or subscriber to the local system.
The CRCBR and CRCPE boards acted swiftly when we heard about the agreement. The leadership of CRCBR and CRCPE felt it imperative to provide protection to our subscribers, and therefore paid the required cost of the NAR licensing agreement for our members. We learned in mid-June, that NAR did complete the required payment for the first deadline. As a result, all subscribers have the ability to utilize CPE, list and share their properties throughout the system, and list properties on their website without fear of repercussion. All REALTOR® members in the Charlotte Region Commercial Board of REALTORS® have also received protection as a result of the decision of the local Board of Directors. CIVIX will not have grounds to send demand letters to any of our subscribers.
We have now learned that the National Association of REALTORS® was able to reach the required $7.5 million in license fees to CIVIX. As a result, all REALTOR® associations, MLS’, CIE’s, and local brokers (1.1 million members strong) are protected from current and future claims of patent infringement from CIVIX.
Our leadership will continue to ensure that our subscribers are protected to the best of our ability. If you receive a letter from CIVIX or have any questions regarding the licensing agreement, please contact me for more information.
Executive Vice President