The ongoing multi-state legal battle between Zillow and Realtor.com operator Move, Inc. continued today with Move alleging that Zillow was able to acquire Trulia because of confidential information it learned from executives that Zillow poached prior to the acquisition.
The filing, first reported on by Inman News, has only been released in redacted form, so it’s not clear exactly what the information is that Move takes issue with. One possibility is that Errol Samuelson, the former Move exec who became Zillow’s chief industry development officer, may have told Zillow about Trulia considering the purchase of Move.
As a result of that, Move is asking a Washington Superior Court Judge for an injunction to “eliminate the commercial advantage” of the Zillow/Trulia merger, though the company isn’t being clear about what exactly that means. In addition, Move is seeking monetary damages and an injunction that would prevent further confidentiality breaches.
That’s just one component of a smorgasbord of accusations leveled against Zillow, Samuelson and Curt Beardsley, another former Move executive who is now Zillow’s vice president of industry development. The lawsuit, which Move filed in March, originally only took issue with Samuelson’s hiring, but then expanded to cover Beardsley, too.
Beardsley is accused of – among other things – deleting all of his Move email prior to leaving the company and selling 33,775 shares of Move stock for a gain of $224,000 prior to Samuelson departing the company. The latter allegation is said to be in violation of Move’s insider trading policy.
Furthermore, Move alleges in its complaint that Zillow offered both men above-market pay packages with the expectation that they would relay trade secrets about their former employer.
Unsurprisingly, Zillow plans to fight back, saying in a statement to GeekWire: “We believe Move’s claims are entirely without merit and we intend to vigorously defend against the allegations set forth in their complaint.”
All of this wrangling comes after Trulia settled a separate lawsuit with Move-operated listing aggregator ListHub. That suit, which centered around ListHub wanting to cut off its feed of listings to Trulia, came to an end after the two parties agreed to end the feed on April 7.
Samuleson, who joined Zillow in March 2014, was set to return to Zillow this month after a judge in Washington state sidelined the executive for about 10 months following allegations raised by Move Inc.