WASHINGTON, DC – April 1, 2014 – CoStar Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSGP) this week is filing a series of lawsuits against 8 real estate firms and individuals as part of a coordinated anti-piracy campaign aimed at ending theft of CoStar services.
The suits allege systematic theft of CoStar’s services though acts of online piracy and computer hacking via illegal password sharing. The defendants in these cases could be ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages.
CoStar is also filing a “John Doe” lawsuit in New York federal court based on allegations of improper use of CoStar data and photos to populate a competing service called CompStak. To move the case forward against named defendants rather than John Does, CoStar seeks to compel CompStak’s disclosure of the identities of its users that have allegedly violated CoStar’s copyrights.
CoStar builds its products and services at significant expense and, accordingly, must ensure that they are not stolen.
Among the defendants implicated in the data theft lawsuits are two Denver real estate brokerage firms co-owned by Chang Enterprises, a family investment company that includes former tennis champion Michael Chang. The complaint alleges that the two firms, Dunton Commercial and SullivanHayes, were responsible for 2,259 unauthorized logins to CoStar's networks over the course of several years.
Additional lawsuits have been filed against Detroit-area based Insite Commercial Group and its principal, Randall Thomas; Dallas-based Chris Chevreaux d/b/a Chevreaux & Associates and Ben Dyess d/b/a Ben Dyess & Associates; and Chicago-based Richard Griego d/b/a Frontera Realty Consultants, who in aggregate are alleged to have illegally accessed CoStar's services thousands of times.
CoStar has also filed suit against a Los Angeles-based individual, Andrew Gee, alleging that he engaged in blatant and widespread misuse of CoStar’s services in connection with his attempts to launch a competing commercial real estate information service, PropertyDeets.com. Gee was formerly an acquisitions and asset manager with Meridian Property Company before leaving and starting his own business in 2013.
CoStar has a long-standing commitment to securing its networks and ensuring that only legitimate subscribers access its databases. When people steal access to CoStar’s database it hurts legitimate clients so CoStar acts decisively to prevent such theft. CoStar is able to quickly, quietly, and fairly resolve the vast majority of instances where companies or individuals are discovered misappropriating CoStar services and CoStar only takes legal action in egregious cases and as a last resort.
CoStar has a strong history of successfully securing judgments against data thieves. In 2012, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland finalized a judgment ordering Alliance Valuation Group, TGC Realty Counselors and Pathfinder Mortgage Corporation to pay CoStar more than $3 million in damages for their roles in unauthorized photograph use. The order brought to a close a lawsuit involving a multi-state, multi-defendant password sharing network that involved companies in Orange County, CA; Houston, TX; and Palm Beach Gardens, FL.
To help catch data thieves, CoStar also offers a substantial reward for reports of wrongdoing that result in successful claims. Individuals who report suspected password sharing or unauthorized use of CoStar content could receive either $50,000 if CoStar chooses to file a court case, or 100% of any funds CoStar collects in a settlement or judgment after recouping its legal fees.
About CoStar Group, Inc.
CoStar Group (NASDAQ: CSGP) is the leading provider of commercial real estate information, analytics and marketplaces. Founded in 1987, CoStar conducts expansive, ongoing research to produce and maintain the largest and most comprehensive database of commercial real estate information. Our suite of online services enables clients to analyze, interpret and gain unmatched insight on commercial property values, market conditions and current availabilities. Through LoopNet, the Company operates the most heavily trafficked commercial real estate marketplace online with more than 8 million registered members. Including Apartments.com, CoStar operates websites that have approximately 16 million unique monthly visitors in aggregate. Headquartered in Washington, DC, CoStar maintains offices throughout the U.S. and in Europe with a staff of over 2,300 worldwide, including the industry's largest professional research organization. For more information, visit www.costar.com.
This news release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements include, but are not limited to, statements about CoStar Group's financial expectations, the Company's plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements including words such as “hope,” "anticipate," "may," "believe," "expect," "intend," "will," "should," "plan," "estimate," "predict," "continue" and "potential" or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of management of CoStar Group and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in the forward-looking statements. The following factors, among others, could cause or contribute to such differences: the risk that CoStar is unsuccessful in securing judgments against the defendants in the lawsuits identified in this release in the amounts expected or at all; the risk that CoStar is unsuccessful in collecting any amounts defendants are ordered to pay in damages; and the risk that CoStar is unsuccessful in compelling CompStak’s disclosure of the identities of its users that have allegedly violated CoStar’s copyrights. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements can be found in CoStar Group’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013, filed with the SEC, including in the “Risk Factors” section of that filing, and the Company’s other filings with the SEC available at the SEC’s website (www.sec.gov). CoStar Group assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.