SEATTLE – March 18, 2014 – Move Inc. filed a lawsuit against Zillow Inc. and Errol Samuelson in the Superior Court of King County, Washington for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and misappropriation of trade secrets, among other actions.
Move oversees realtor.com, which the National Association of Realtors (NAR) owns. As a result, NAR and its subsidiary, Realtors Information Network, Inc., joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs. Move also oversees other real estate-related websites.
In the lawsuit, NAR and Move claim that “Mr. Samuelson’s vast knowledge of Move’s trade secrets, strategies, products and business relationship, particularly his knowledge of Move’s strategic plans vis-à-vis Zillow, makes it impossible for him to function in his new position at Zillow without disclosing, or at least using, Move’s trade secrets in a manner harmful to Move.”
The 16-page lawsuit attempts to outline the different ways Samuelson agreed not to disclose Move’s trade secrets; and it includes a list of the ways Move alleges those trade secrets were, or could be, disclosed to Zillow. As two advertising portals that display homes for sale, Zillow competes with realtor.com in the online marketplace.
In the lawsuit, Move asks for an “award of damages in an amount to be determined,” temporary and permanent injunctive relief, attorney fees and costs, and other relief from Zillow.
According to the lawsuit, Move hopes to “prevent further actual, threatened and inevitable trade secret misappropriation, breaches of contract and to eliminate the commercial advantage that Mr. Samuelson and Zillow would otherwise derive from the trade secret misappropriation.”
The lawsuit does not name a second Move executive who recently quit to join Zillow, Curt Beardsley, who took over Samuelson’s job at Move before making the switch to Zillow.
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