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Redfin prevails over co-founder in patent trial

Geekwire logo Geekwire 5/19/2022 Todd Bishop
© Provided by Geekwire

A federal jury in Texas this week sided with Redfin in a patent lawsuit brought two years ago by Surefield, a Seattle startup that was launched by Redfin co-founder David Eraker several years after his departure from the company.

The lawsuit involved technology for 3D online home tours, a feature that has taken on added importance over the past two years as the pandemic has made in-person tours more difficult in some cases.

Surefield founder David Eraker. (Surefield Photo) © Provided by Geekwire Surefield founder David Eraker. (Surefield Photo)

The jury, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, found unanimously that Surefield did not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Redfin infringed on a total of 10 disputed claims across four Surefield patents. The jury also found that Redfin proved by clear and convincing evidence that those claims were invalid.

Surefield had alleged that Redfin and Matterport, its partner and provider of the feature, copied the appearance and underlying technology from Surefield, which was first to market.

Eraker said at the time of the suit that this allegedly unfair competition from Redfin hampered Surefield’s ability to raise VC funding, and forced his company to pivot to a different business model.

Redfin, a publicly traded high-tech real estate brokerage based in Seattle, denied that the 3D home tours on its site infringed on Surefield’s patents. In a court filing, Redfin also cited testimony from a Matterport executive who said that Redfin had no involvement in the technological direction and implementation of the feature.

In court filings, both Redfin and Matterport pointed to Google’s Street View Indoors technology as prior art as part of their efforts to invalidate the Surefield patents in dispute in the case.

Matterport filed a separate lawsuit against Surefield in federal court in Seattle this week, seeking to invalidate the patents, and asking for a declaratory judgment that Matterport doesn’t infringe on them.

We’ve contacted Eraker for comment on the Matterport lawsuit, and the jury verdict in the Redfin case.

Redfin said in a statement that it was gratified by the jury verdict and “happy to put this behind us.” The company recently settled a separate lawsuit filed in 2020 by the National Fair Housing Alliance and other organizations.

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