Redfin has emerged victorious from a legal battle with cofounder David Eraker’s firm Surefield.
A jury in the U.S. District Court in Waco, Texas ruled in favor of Redfin Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by Eraker in May 2020. The suit alleged Redfin copied aspects of the virtual 3D home tour technology launched by Surefield in April 2014.
Eraker left Redfin in 2006 and went on to found Surefield in 2012.
Four months after Surefield launched its 3D home tours, Redfin released its 3D Walkthrough product, which Surefield claimed was based on the same image rendering technology and utilized a similar interface.
“Surefield’s image-based rendering approach was a first-to-market solution to a critical last mile problem in residential real estate, which is to get people into houses, and Redfin quickly copied it,” Eraker said in a statement at the time of the initial filing.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office previously granted Surefield protection of its image-based rendering system. These patents cover the system’s use of composited images, such as rendered panoramas, 3D reconstruction approaches to determining the geometry of a home, spatial data labels and dynamically switching between multiple image-based rendering algorithms in the user interface to enable both photorealistic views of the home – as well as different forms of spatial navigation and perspectives.
“Redfin is gratified that the jury found in our favor. We’re happy to put this behind us and continue with our mission to redefine real estate in the consumer’s favor,” a spokeswoman for Redfin wrote in an email.
Eraker is the third Redfin cofounder to file a lawsuit against the firm, according to Surefield. In 2014, Redfin cofounder Michael Dougherty and former chief technology officer David Selinger alleged that the company intended to cancel their shares as it prepared for its initial public offering. In 2017, Eraker threatened litigation on a separate patent filing.
Surefield initially had filed a second lawsuit in King County Superior Court in Seattle, alleging Redfin and Madrona Venture Group misappropriated intellectual property related to map-based search and other inventions dating from 2004.