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.
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.: