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IBM Sues Real Estate Giant Zillow: Infringing on PatentsIBM is escalating its legal battle with Zillow, filing a lawsuit accusing the listings giant of infringing on patents to build its real estate search engine.

Basis of the Lawsuit

In a July 21, 2020 lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, IBM claimed the Seattle-based company infringed on five patents that improve searches by ranking results and simplifying content displays, among other things. Despite written notifications, Zillow has engaged in a “policy of willful blindness” and continues to use the technology, IBM alleges.

IBM and Zillow have been fighting over patent licensing deals for several years.

Bad History

In September, the tech company sued Zillow in federal court in California, accusing it of building its portal with the unauthorized use of seven patented technologies. In that complaint, IBM said it tried for three years to reach a licensing deal with Zillow but wasn’t able to do so. In that case, IBM is seeking “royalties on the billions of dollars in revenue that Zillow has received based on their infringement of IBM’s patented technology.”

In a statement, Zillow said,

“We are aware of the lawsuit filed in federal court. We believe the claims in the case are without merit and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves against the lawsuit.”

Real Estate and the Bottom Line

Since 2019, the company has bet heavily on home-buying as the future of its business. Last year, Zillow generated $2.7 billion in revenue, including $1.365 billion from its iBuying segment. However, the company lost $305.4 billion, up from $119.9 million in 2018. Zillow temporarily paused home-buying in March amid Covid’s uncertainty.

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