zillow5A King County Superior Court Judge has denied a motion by Move Inc. to block the employment of Errol Samuelson at Zillow, a legal case that’s drawn interest given the bitter undertones between the two online real estate rivals.

Judge Barbara Linde ruled Monday that Move Inc., which operates Realtor.com, did not prove that Samuelson would disclose trade secrets from Move or that he misappropriated them when he left the company to join Zillow.

A photo of Errol Samuelson.
Errol Samuelson

Samuelson and Zillow were sued shortly after his appointment as Chief Industry Development Officer in March, with Move alleging that the real estate exec destroyed materials and generally slacked off during his final days at the company. They also allege that Samuelson is privy to sensitive product and business information at Move. Samuelson, who never signed an non-compete agreement, denies those claims, saying it’s not as if he stole “a secret playbook of some kind and used it at Zillow.”

In a declaration, Samuelson claimed that Move was “badmouthing” him and “trying to impugn my reputation in the industry.”

You can read more of the back-and-forth in our earlier report: Zillow vs. Move: Dueling declarations show bitter feud over key real estate exec.

The case is ongoing.

Making matters worse for Move, just a few days after the appointment, Zillow hired Samuelson’s replacement at Move, Curt Beardsley.

In a resignation letter to Move CEO Steven Berkowitz dated March 16th, Beardsley said that he’d “lost faith in Move.” That mirrored language that Samuelson used in describing Move, a company which he said was no longer operating ethically.

Beardsley wrote in part:

beardsley-letter4

And here’s the Judge’s ruling from today:

zillow-moveimage2014-04-14-094419 (2)

Comments

  • Neil

    Reminds me of that chestnut of an article in the original Red Herring: “The Pussification of a Silicon Valley”

  • Dave

    This lawsuit never made sense. They had no non-compete or similar agreement to try to enforce. The “inevitable disclosure” doctrine is very difficult to enforce and very rare in application, particularly for non-technical people. This seems like someone at Move told their lawyers “we want to sue that guy” so they did, even on a thin chance of winning. Similar to HP and Mark Hurd’s move to Oracle a few years ago.

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