Sutton WestCoast Realty, one of the largest real estate brokerages in Canada, has received a cease-and-desist letter asking that the brokerage take down a Web site that allegedly mirrors one from Seattle online real estate upstart Estately.

The two companies had been partners for the past three years, with Sutton WestCoast using Estately’s map-based technology to power its Web site. But Estately decided to terminate its white-label real estate search service earlier this year, notifying customers of the change and asking them to find alternatives.

However, a new site emerged from Sutton WestCoast recently that appeared to be a near-exact replica of Estately’s service.

“Their new site, that is not hosted by us, looks surprisingly like Estately, circa 2011,” said Estately CEO Galen Ward. “We have ended our relationship with Sutton WestCoast, at the end of March, and we are having conversations with them about their new site.” Ward declined further comment.

Estately's Galen Ward

A representative from Sutton WestCoast declined to comment, telling GeekWire that the matter was being handled by the company’s lawyers. Based in Vancouver, Sutton WestCoast operates 17 offices and employs more than 1,700 agents, according to its Web site.

Estately does not currently operate in Canada, but the company has been expanding its footprint to other North American cities in recent months, including Dallas/Fort Worth and Westchester County in New York. It currently lists properties for 475,000 homes in 11 U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia.

Kevin Lisota, CEO of Seattle online real estate brokerage Findwell, also had used Estately’s service. But just this week the company switched to a new offering from Zillow’s Diverse Solutions. Lisota said that Estately’s terms were clear, at least as it related to his company’s arrangement.

“It allowed us the use of their home search technology, but expressly prohibited reverse engineering or creation of derivative works,” said Lisota. “Sutton seems to have ignored that and flat out stole the design and functionality of Estately’s site.”

So, what do the two sites look like? Below are screen grabs, the first from Estately and the second from Sutton WestCoast.


And here’s the Sutton site for parts of B.C.:

Comments

  • Real Estate Investor

    Yeah, that is an exact copy.  Ouch.

  • Matt Cohen

    Ouch. I CAN understand not wanting website visitors to have a completely new experience just because you changed vendors. But there’s a line that may have been crossed. We’ll see what the lawyers and judge say, I guess.

    • galenward

      Matt, it’s one thing to mimic, it’s another to literally copy HTML, image assets, javascript, and CSS. A few words have been changed, the default font is different, and the map markers are different, but the site is a direct copy.

      • Matt Cohen

        That’s pretty sick!

  • http://blog.findwell.com Kevin Lisota

    Unbelievable how blatant the plagiarism is by Sutton West Coast. If you dig into the icons/css/js/html, they pretty much just lifted everything to recreate their own version of the site.

    Galen was bugging me about our own transition, as I got delayed by a couple days. I thought I still had time because Sutton’s site was still live, but I was fooled by a copied site!

    Smacks of an overseas outsourced project, though parts of their site are hosted by homezilla.ca, who may be part of the IP theft here.

  • Guest

    Not cool, eh?

  • http://4realz.net/ Dustin

    Ouch… that is so wrong.   I remember when someone put a proposal out to copy redfin’s site: http://blog.redfin.com/blog/2008/04/attack_of_the_clones.html and I thought that was crazy… but to actually implement it.  That seems downright dumb.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/KellyClay Kelly Clay

    Looks like the cease-and-desist – and this negative attention – worked. Sutton’s website is currently down, displaying the following message when you search the site: “We are bringing you a whole new real estate search experience, but currently have the site offline for updates.”

    • http://twitter.com/rqd Robert Drummer

      Still down for “updates”

      • Kdbcorporate

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        Kushu Malik merchant circle

        Kushu Malik merchant circle

  • heymanster

    Go to Google maps and search for Chinese restaurants in your city.  Better start sending notices to Google for looking like Estately.

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