What's Wrong With Just Competing In The Market? Zillow Sues Trulia For Patent Infringement

from the focus-on-innovation,-not-lawsuits dept

In the Wired story about Trulia's IPO (which oddly, again, suggests that a massive stock price bump on day one is "good," rather than a sign of a company leaving lots of money on the table), there is a somewhat random aside about how Zillow and Trulia are the two key competitors in the space, and noting that Zillow sued Trulia for patent infringement just recently.

The patent, 7,970,674, is for "Automatically determining a current value for a real estate property, such as a home, that is tailored to input from a human, such as its owner." Got that? Basically, it's for Zillow's "Zestimator" that seeks to take a guess at what any particular house might be worth (an estimate that -- from my view -- often seems completely inaccurate in my own neighborhood, but others may differ). It's a nice feature, no doubt, and it's one that Trulia apparently added to its site... hence the lawsuit.

Even if we assume that Trulia saw what Zillow was doing and flat out copied it -- is that really a problem? Looking specifically at this example (and my experience with Zillow's estimates) this is the kind of thing where it seems like a really good thing to have more competition, driving each company to make their offering even better and more accurate and useful. In other words, just compete in the market and let the best service win. In the past I've been a big fan of Zillow, so I'm disappointed to see them going after competitors with patents, rather than focusing on innovating. It did get me to go check out Trulia again, however, something I hadn't done in years. Though I doubt that was Zillow's intention.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Minimum Wage Shill, Sep 25th, 2012 @ 8:00pm

    "What's Wrong With Just Competing In The Market?"

    Because competition sucks. Look at me, I try my best to compete with all the other shills and, no matter how hard I try, they're consistently dumber than me. What am I doing wrong?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Sep 25th, 2012 @ 9:14pm

    Re:

    "What am I doing wrong?"

    Obviously, you need something shilltastic to set yourself apart from the other shills - possibly the addition of a shilliment to all of your postings would alleviate the aforementioned difficulty.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2012 @ 9:17pm

    IPO almost 30% undervalued?

    That's like forgetting federal AND state taxes. Eh, what's a $350 million+ error on Wall Street.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 10:21pm

    Re: Re:

    And I propose initiating a tax on all other shills! They are CLEARLY dragging you down and ruining your business model with pirated shill programs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 2:05am

    Re: Re: Re:

    There should be a tax on stupidity, that would get rid of all the shills.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Garrett, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 2:32am

    Thinking this is personal

    So I've been recently in the market for a new place and was curious about any alternatives to Zillow. Just 3 days ago I looked for some and found Trulia. They have some really neat offerings and I really think that Zillow is smacking down because Trulia looks to become a fast riser.

    Lots of other sites are using estimates (I even found one that asks people to crowdsource the estimate) but Trulia's also doing really cool things like puting in crime overlays, school ratings and a "walking score" which I found pretty cool (even if they did misidentify HEB's corporate office as a grocery store).

    So yeah, I think Zillow is correctly identifying Trulia as a threat, and they had this stick, so they used it. Shame...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Tobias Harms (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 3:15am

    Silly rabbit, of course under valued is good. Didn't you get the memo? What is good, bad, evil and morally right has been redefined to better harmonize with the interest of the stockholders and gamblers. I know you agree, you're not a communistic child molesting pirate terrorist are you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Decadre (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 5:47am

    WOW

    They managed to patent a combination of a database, math formula and a website.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    RD, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 6:06am

    DUH!

    "Even if we assume that Trulia saw what Zillow was doing and flat out copied it -- is that really a problem? "

    Yes! DUH! Because no one would bother to invent real estate if they didnt have protection! Without patents there would be no land to sell!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 7:44am

    Re: WOW

    So, we're actually only doing something that's been done for centuries. But we're doing it on a computer! That's patent-worthy, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Ben S (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 9:28am

    Screw Zillow

    I hope Zillow burns. They incorrectly list my mom's quit claimed off the title of my first house as a low-price sale. This led prospective renters to think that we were asking for too much in monthly rent when we put it on the rental market this summer.

    Trulia seems to know the difference and does not show the quit claim in the sale history.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    iambinarymind (profile), Sep 26th, 2012 @ 10:50am

    The problem is...

    The problem is companies competing rather that using State force to get their way is something called "freedom" and unfortunately in today's Amerika, "freedom" is tantamount to "terrorism".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Rachel Rosen, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 10:23am

    Quit Claim Deed

    Hi Ben,
    If you email the address to social at zillow dot com, we'd be happy to correct the sale history for you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Ben S (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 11:03am

    Re: Quit Claim Deed

    Rachel,

    Thanks for at least reaching out, but I'm confused:

    If I need to send email to some hidden address, then what is the point of the flag button next to the erroneous entry on my house's Zillow page that is supposedly for submitting corrections?

    My wife and I have each used that flag icon to submit corrections several times or the past 1-2 years, and Zillow has ignored it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Tobias Harms (profile), Sep 29th, 2012 @ 12:16am

    Silly rabbit, of course under valued is good. Didn't you get the memo? What is good, bad, evil and morally right has been redefined to better harmonize with the interest of the stockholders and gamblers. I know you agree, you're not a communistic child molesting pirate terrorist are you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Tobias Harms (profile), Sep 29th, 2012 @ 10:49am

    Silly rabbit, of course under valued is good. Didn't you get the memo? What is good, bad, evil and morally right has been redefined to better harmonize with the interest of the stockholders and gamblers. I know you agree, you're not a communistic child molesting pirate terrorist are you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Tobias Harms (profile), Sep 29th, 2012 @ 11:32pm

    Silly rabbit, of course under valued is good. Didn't you get the memo? What is good, bad, evil and morally right has been redefined to better harmonize with the interest of the stockholders and gamblers. I know you agree, you're not a communistic child molesting pirate terrorist are you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Tobias Harms (profile), Oct 15th, 2012 @ 5:45am

    Silly rabbit, of course under valued is good. Didn't you get the memo? What is good, bad, evil and morally right has been redefined to better harmonize with the interest of the stockholders and gamblers. I know you agree, you're not a communistic child molesting pirate terrorist are you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Tobias Harms (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 9:00pm

    Silly rabbit, of course under valued is good. Didn't you get the memo? What is good, bad, evil and morally right has been redefined to better harmonize with the interest of the stockholders and gamblers. I know you agree, you're not a communistic child molesting pirate terrorist are you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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