Move Inc. et al. v. Zillow Inc. et al.

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Cornerstone Research worked with an M&A transactions expert and a survey expert in a case that involved alleged misappropriation of trade secrets and counterclaims of defamation.

Retained by Jenner & Block

Counsel for online realtor Move Inc. retained Cornerstone Research and two experts in this lawsuit that involved allegations of trade secret misappropriation and counterclaims of defamation.

Move claimed that Zillow acquired competitor Trulia based on confidential information that Trulia and Move were engaged in merger discussions. Move alleged that one of its executives—closely involved in the Trulia–Move discussions—transitioned to Zillow, bringing confidential information and trade secrets regarding the proposed merger. Shortly thereafter, Zillow decided preemptively to acquire Trulia.

Cornerstone Research and our experts assessed the stated rationale for acquiring Trulia and critiqued surveys on alleged harm to Zillow’s reputation.

In the trade secrets portion of the case, Cornerstone Research worked with an M&A transactions expert. The expert and Cornerstone Research staff assessed Zillow’s stated rationale for acquiring Trulia. By analyzing the three players’ market shares, financial performance, and valuations, among other factors, the expert demonstrated that the Zillow–Trulia deal and the price Zillow paid for Trulia were atypical from an M&A perspective. He concluded that Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia was consistent with evidence of acting on inside information.

Amid the trade secrets litigation, a former Zillow vice president sent Move’s counsel an anonymous letter detailing a variety of allegations about Zillow’s employees and business practices. When the letter became public, Zillow filed defamation counterclaims against Move.

In order to assess the effect of the letter on Zillow’s reputation among consumers and real estate professionals, Zillow’s expert conducted an online survey. Cornerstone Research worked with Professor David W. Stewart of Loyola Marymount University to critique the survey, pointing out basic design failures and numerous implementation inconsistencies. When Zillow’s expert conducted two additional surveys in response to these findings, Professor Stewart identified numerous critical weaknesses in both new surveys.

The case settled on the day that trial was scheduled to begin, with Zillow agreeing to pay $130 million.


For additional information about this case, please contact Richard DalbeckAshish Pradhan, or Carlos Brain.


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