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CoStar Lawsuit Accuses Homesnap Founder Of Stealing Trade Secrets

Real estate data conglomerate CoStar is suing the founder of Homesnap for allegedly stealing trade secrets and poaching former employees.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 27, asks a district judge in D.C. to stop the use and disclosure of CoStar’s confidential information. It also requests the company be reimbursed for monetary damages and legal fees, according to the Washington Business Journal.

CoStar CEO Andy Florance in the audience at a 2019 Bisnow event.

CoStar acquired Homesnap for $250M at the end of 2020. The addition was poised to quadruple the number of active real estate agent users on CoStar’s U.S. platforms and dramatically increase its number of property listings.

CoStar is now accusing Homesnap founder and CEO Guy Wolcott of stealing business by repurposing confidential data he had access to while working for CoStar Sync, a proprietary data storage platform. Wolcott left CoStar late last year and launched Happening Technology in January.  

Three former Homesnap employees are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Wolcott expressed confidence the evidence will exonerate them of any wrongdoing in an email to trade publication Inman.

“I won’t comment on an ongoing legal matter, but I am confident that once the facts have been shared, it will be clear that no misappropriation or copying has taken place,” Wolcott wrote.

CoStar has filed more than 30 lawsuits since 1999, many of them for similar copyright infringement claims. 

The company filed a lawsuit in 2020 against CREXi, claiming theft of its intellectual property in a case set for a March 2024 trial. A judge in 2017 ordered Apartment Hunters to pay CoStar for stealing its listings, and in 2016, RealMassive agreed to pay $1M in a settlement for a copyright infringement suit.

In some cases, defendants have struck back with lawsuits of their own. Commercial property data firm Xceligent filed an antitrust countersuit against CoStar in 2017, alleging the data giant had created a monopoly and engaged in years of anticompetitive behavior. 

But Xceligent filed for bankruptcy in December 2017, and CoStar won a judgment two years later finding Xceligent liable for $500M in damages. The parties ultimately reached a settlement in which Xceligent insurers agreed to pay CoStar $10.75M.