BETHESDA, MD -- A federal judge, acting at the request of CoStar Group (NASDAQ:CSGP), has ordered LoopNet, Inc. to remove copyrighted CoStar photographs of commercial real estate properties from LoopNet's Web site.
The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by CoStar against LoopNet and its CEO and President, Dennis DeAndre, alleging that they infringed CoStar's copyrights by unlawfully displaying and distributing CoStar's photos on the Internet. CoStar was compelled to take legal action to protect its database, the cornerstone of the company's strategy to be the most comprehensive provider of commercial real estate information.
In a preliminary injunction issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow ordered LoopNet to remove "any and all [CoStar] photographs" from its Web site once CoStar notifies it of any possible infringement. The injunction requires that LoopNet notify users whenever it removes CoStar photographs submitted for posting on LoopNet's Web site.
The judge, speaking from the bench at a March 9 hearing in Greenbelt, Md., found that CoStar has a "likelihood of success" in its claim of copyright infringement against LoopNet. Judge Chasanow also warned LoopNet that in the future it should ensure that it does not repost CoStar photographs that have already been removed from the LoopNet Web site.
Carla Garrett, CoStar's General Counsel, said the company was pleased with the court's ruling. "This ruling should serve to deter anyone considering misappropriating CoStar photos or other valuable intellectual property," she said. "CoStar has invested millions of dollars to build and continually update its proprietary database and we will take appropriate enforcement action whenever necessary to protect our investment."
The court ruling was a victory in CoStar's ongoing campaign to protect the value of its database, a multi-million dollar asset and an invaluable resource to CoStar's customers -- the nation's commercial real estate professionals. The CoStar database contains comprehensive information on more than 700,000 commercial properties in over 50 markets throughout the country, and over 660,000 digital images.
In the order, Judge Chasanow mandated that LoopNet require certain of its users to produce evidence of copyright ownership or other authorization before posting any photograph to the LoopNet Web site. The judge also ruled that LoopNet may have to restrict access to its Web site for its customers who commit "repeat acts of infringement".
CoStar in its suit is seeking monetary damages for past infringements, attorney's fees and a permanent injunction against LoopNet and DeAndre. A trial date has not yet been set.
Headquartered in Bethesda, MD, CoStar Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSGP), is the leading provider of information services to the U.S. commercial real estate industry. CoStar's suite of products offers customers access via the Internet to the most comprehensive, verified database of commercial real estate information in over 50 U.S. markets. The company has more than 1,000 employees nationally, including over 700 highly trained commercial real estate research professionals in 23 offices. For more information, please visit http://www.costargroup.com.