Apartment Hunters, Inc. Caught Stealing Website Content From Apartments.com According to CoStar Lawsuit

  • CoStar files complaint alleging copyright violations and theft of Apartments.com content seeking millions of dollars in damages and a permanent injunction based on Apartment Hunters’ willful and systematic misappropriation of intellectual property.
  • Without permission, Apartment Hunters has copied and reproduced CoStar’s multifamily listing information, including its copyrighted real estate photographs, for commercial gain on a massive scale, stealing likely hundreds, if not thousands, of CoStar’s listings and photographs.
  • Apartment Hunters and its principals have been repeatedly sanctioned for violating the California Real Estate Law, including based on findings that they unlawfully displayed real estate photographs owned by third parties.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- CoStar Realty Information, Inc., a subsidiary of CoStar Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSGP), has filed a lawsuit against Apartment Hunters, Inc., which operates ApartmentHunterz.com and a network of affiliated sites, for copying and republishing apartment listings and copyrighted photographs from CoStar-owned Apartments.com.

As detailed in the complaint, Apartment Hunters impermissibly uses CoStar apartment listings and copyrighted content on its network of at least nine websites, including ApartmentHunterz.com, the majority of which appear to require searchers to pay a monthly fee to search apartment listings. Apartment Hunters and its principals, Kevin Shayan and Steven Shayan, have been repeatedly sanctioned by the California Bureau of Real Estate for flagrant disregard of the law, including most recently for operating without a license (after a prior suspension) and unauthorized and deceptive use of listings copied from real estate websites operated by others. Undeterred, the defendants’ massive piracy scheme has continued.

The complaint asserts that Apartment Hunters, located in Orange County, California, procures a substantial portion of the listings that appear on its network of websites by copying content from other internet listing sites without authorization, including from Apartments.com, then charges renters a fee to access those pirated listings. It is believed that the high volume of copying and frequent refresh rate of ApartmentHunterz.com’s listings is possible only through automated data collection, the details of which are recited in CoStar’s complaint. Despite the punishment handed down by the California Bureau of Real Estate, defendants’ pattern of unauthorized use of content from third party sources continued as it targeted Apartments.com and other rental sites.

The complaint further alleges that Apartment Hunters modified CoStar’s copyright-protected photographs before posting them on their network of websites in hopes of disguising their infringement. The CoStar photographs displayed on defendants’ sites have been cropped or overlaid so as to remove or obscure the CoStar logo, evidencing a willful intent to infringe.

“CoStar is an advocate for competition and innovation in the apartment rentals marketplace,” said Andrew Florance, founder and CEO of CoStar Group. “However, Apartment Hunters does not represent legitimate innovation, nor does it provide a benefit to advertisers or consumers. Apartment Hunters has a long track record of misconduct and disregard for legitimate and lawful competition. It profits from content that is stolen from those who created it through hard work and investment, then charges consumers for access to its stolen listings.”

CoStar is seeking millions of dollars in damages for copyright infringement, misappropriation and unfair competition and a permanent injunction against Apartment Hunters and its principals.

For more information about this case, please contact:
All Inquiries: Becky Carr, Chief Marketing Officer, at (202) 312-8455 (bcarr@costar.com)
Investors: Richard Simonelli, Vice President Investor Relations, at (202) 346-6394 (rsimonelli@costar.com).

About CoStar Group

CoStar Group, Inc. (CSGP) is the leading provider of commercial real estate information, analytics and online 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. LoopNet is the most heavily trafficked commercial real estate marketplace online with more than 10.0 million registered members. Apartments.com, ApartmentFinder.com and ApartmentHomeLiving.com currently form the premier online apartment resource for renters seeking great apartment homes and provide property managers and owners a proven platform for marketing their properties. Through an exclusive partnership with Move, a subsidiary of News Corp (NWS) (NWSA) (NWS) (ASX:NWSLV), Apartments.com is the exclusive provider of apartment community listings across Move’s family of websites, which include realtor.com®, doorsteps.com and move.com. CoStar Group operates websites with over 23.7 million unique monthly visitors in aggregate as of September 2015. Headquartered in Washington, DC, CoStar maintains offices throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Toronto with a staff of approximately 2,850 worldwide, including the industry’s largest professional research organization. For more information, visit www.costargroup.com.

About Apartments.com Network

Apartments.com is the leading online apartment listing website, offering renters access to information on more than 500,000 available units for rent. Powered by CoStar, the Apartments.com network of sites includes Apartments.com, ApartmentFinder.com, and ApartmentHomeLiving.com. Through an exclusive partnership with Move, a subsidiary of News Corp, Apartments.com is also the exclusive provider of apartment community listings across Move’s family of websites, which include realtor.com®, doorsteps.com and move.com. This offers advertisers one listing on one network, over six powerful sites. Apartments.com is supported by the industry’s largest professional research team, which has visited and photographed over 400,000 properties nationwide. The team makes over one million calls each month to apartment owners and property managers, collecting and verifying current availabilities, rental rates, pet policies, fees, leasing incentives, concessions, and more. Apartments.com offers more apartments than other apartments websites, and innovative features including a Polygon™ tool that allows users to define their own search areas on a map, and a “Plan Commute” feature that lets users search for rentals in proximity to a specific address. Apartments.com creates easy access to its listings through a responsive website and iOS and Android apps, and provides unmatched exposure for its advertisers through an intuitive name, strategic search engine placements and innovative emerging media. The Apartments.com network reaches millions of renters nationwide, driving both qualified traffic and highly engaged renters to leasing offices. For more information: www.apartments.com.

This news release includes "forward-looking statements" including, without limitation, statements regarding CoStar's expectations, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding the future. These statements are based upon current beliefs and are subject to many risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from these statements. The following factors, among others, could cause or contribute to such differences: the risk that CoStar is not successful in obtaining a permanent injunction and/or judgment against Apartment Hunters and its principals; and the risk that even if CoStar is successful in obtaining a judgment that it is not awarded, or is unable to collect, damages in the amount stated in this release. More information about potential factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, those stated in CoStar's filings from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including in CoStar's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2014, and Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2015, each of which is filed with the SEC, including in the "Risk Factors" section of those filings, as well as CoStar's other filings with the SEC available at the SEC's website (www.sec.gov). All forward-looking statements are based on information available to CoStar on the date hereof, and CoStar assumes no obligation to update such statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Source:CoStar Group, Inc.