The legal drama around an ongoing court case involving Zillow and Realtor.com operator Move, Inc. continued this week with Zillow blasting its competitor for filing an anonymous letter alleging misconduct by the Seattle-based real estate company’s executives.
The company filed a motion to place the final three paragraphs of the letter under seal, which include allegations about Zillow scraping Realtor.com websites for sales leads and listing information that it uses to benchmark its own listing data. Erin Coningsby, a senior program manager at Zillow, said in a declaration filed with the court that the last three paragraphs “reflect an erroneous and limited knowledge” of Zillow’s operations, but also contains confidential information.
“While it contains many inaccuracies, it also discusses various proprietary systems and business information of Zillow that are highly sensitive and trade secret information of Zillow,” Coningsby said. “This information was not publicly known prior to April 10, 2015, was kept highly confidential by Zillow and was disclosed within Zillow only on a very limited need-to-know basis.”
A judge at the King County Superior Court agreed with Zillow, at least in part, granting the company’s motion to seal part of the document. Because the judge’s order isn’t public yet, it’s not clear exactly what sections of the document are under seal. Move, in its response to Zillow’s motion, argued that the document shouldn’t be redacted at all, save for an email address and phone number that was unredacted in the original filing. Move said that the content of the contested paragraphs “cannot possibly be trade secrets.”
“In these paragraphs, the whistleblower merely corroborates plaintiffs’ allegations in this case by describing how defendants are misappropriating plaintiffs’ proprietary data, confidential information and trade secrets,” Move wrote.
In addition to the wrangling over the letter, Zillow Chief Industry Development Officer (and former Move Chairman) Errol Samuelson also filed a declaration responding to previous allegations from Move, including a claim that he used trade secret information to tip off Zillow about purchasing Trulia. The declaration says that the “Trulia tip” was only an email saying that the industry would be in flux, not a specific tip-off about merger plans between Move and Trulia.
A representative for Move declined to comment on this report.