Proactive Move by Envirian LLC To Purchase Licensing Agreements for Patented Mapping Capability Means Protection For Its Brokers And Agents
Reston, VA May. 31, 2007 — When a suit claiming patent infringement was launched against one real estate agent nearly two years ago by Real Estate Alliance Ltd. (REAL), which owns the patented REAL 989 map search function, Envirian LLC, the Reston, Va.-based brokerage, that uses the technology on its national and franchise Web sites, became the first major real estate firm franchise to purchase licensing agreements to ensure all brokers, agents and their clients affiliated with the firm were protected from violation of U.S. patent laws, according to a company spokesman.
Since then, the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) has challenged the validity of REAL's patents. In return, REAL has filed a class action suit that could, depending on the case's outcome, prove to be costly to real estate professionals if the court determines that patent infringements have occurred.
The agreement reached last June between Envirian and REAL, grants the national real estate franchise a master license, as well as licenses for every broker and agent within in the Envirian franchise family. To date, Envirian has franchises in operation in Arizona, California, Washington, D.C., Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
"Under this agreement, Envirian and each of our brokers and agents are fully licensed nationwide users of REAL's patents, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 1989 and 1991," G. Dean Wood, President of Envirian said. "We took the position early on that REAL holds a viable patent and that the right and ethical action was to ensure we don't violate that viable patent. The licensing agreement we have with REAL ensures that brokers and agents and their clients are immediately covered legally when they join the Envirian family," Wood added.
REAL's 989 patents cover a mapping method for locating available real estate properties for sale, lease or rental using a database of available properties and a graphic interface. The patent also includes a "drilldown" feature, under which specific areas can be displayed in greater detail.
"After thorough research, we determined that the viability of the REAL patent will allow members of our franchise family to take full advantage of its approach. Homebuyers will be able to zoom in on a map of an area where they want to live, and quickly identify and look at real estate listings in that area. It provides them with a greater choice of properties available to them," Wood said.
"By stepping up and licensing the patent across our franchise family, we are sending a message to the industry that we recognize and honor REAL's intellectual property, and would urge others to do the same," he said. "This is simply the right thing to do. It's good for our brokers, our agents and our clients. Our brokers and our agents recognize our actions not only as a great benefit to them and their business but also as further commitment by Envirian to practice the principals we've based our model on that include a collaborative corporate culture free of competition," he noted.
For more information about Envirian franchise opportunities, contact Dr. Lee Konowe at 703/391-9200 or 703/928-2805.
About Envirian LLC
Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, Envirian LLC (www.envirian.com) was founded in 2004 to fulfill the promise of real estate technology. The company's unique approach to residential real estate brokers and agents includes: technology-based real estate brokerages, 100 company leads per agent per year, 70/30 commission splits, no referral fees on leads, and a collaborative corporate culture. Envirian's proprietary technology solutions were designed for maximum interoperability and benefit, enabling brokers and agents to conduct more business, communicate with clients and each other, as well as manage the process of real estate sales. Services include top position lead procurement, near instantaneous lead delivery to transaction management, and after-sale client services.