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Real Estate

Realtors come after Zillow for luring top execs

Realtor.com operator Move Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Zillow and former realtor.com president Errol Samuelson, who unexpectedly defected to Zillow on March 5.

Move, joined in the lawsuit by the National Association of Realtors and other subsidiaries such as the Realtors Information Network Inc., alleges in the complaint that Samuelson's departure caused a breach of contract, fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets.

Zillow has yet to comment publicly on the lawsuit.

"At Move, we take our trade secrets and intellectual property extremely seriously as a valuable asset in our competitive position in the marketplace," Steve Berkowitz, Move CEO said in a press release. "We take action in cases in which we believe our trade secrets have been compromised. We have raised this matter for the courts and believe that the matter will be resolved judiciously."

Samuelson began serving as realtor.com's president in 2007, among other internal roles that put him in close contact with the company's partners and overall marketing strategy. Zillow is one of realtor.com's main competitors.

"Mr. Samuelson's former roles at Move gave him access to and knowledge of essentially all of Move's trade secrets across all of its business lines, whether those secrets dealt with finance, technology, data content, strategy, marketing, or another aspect of the business," the complaint said. "The secrets known to Mr. Samuelson would inevitably be useful to him and Zillow."

On Monday, Zillow announced that it had signed another realtor.com higher-up: Curt Beardsley, whom Move promoted executive vice president in the wake of Samuelson's departure.

Samuelson joined Seattle-based Zillow in the newly created role of chief industry development officer. In this role, he is to build relationships with real estate brokers, franchisors, MLSs, and trade associations as well as oversee Zillow's business-to-business product solutions.

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