CoStar reaches $11M settlement in copyright infringement suit against Xceligent

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CoStar CEO Andy Florance (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

CoStar CEO Andy Florance (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

CoStar Group says it has settled its years-long copyright infringement claim against its bankrupt and now defunct competitor, Xceligent.

The commercial real estate data conglomerate reached a $10.75 million settlement with its competitor’s insurer, according to court filings. That’s a fraction of the $450 million CoStar initially sought.

The two firms were at loggerheads in 2017, after CoStar alleged Xceligent had stolen thousands of images and proprietary material from its commercial real estate listings platform. Xceligent counter-sued, alleging anti-competitive practices, but couldn’t afford to continue the legal battle and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy at the end of 2017.

Other real estate data firms have pointed CoStar’s history of aggressive lawsuits and public-relations warfare against rivals. But Florance reiterated his firm’s stance during the earnings call.

“This represented a fundamental threat to CoStar and we had to stop it,” CoStar’s CEO Andrew Florance said during an earnings call Tuesday.

The settlement, which was approved by a court-appointed trustee overseeing Xceligent’s estate, is subject to approval by Delaware Bankruptcy Court.

The legal win for CoStar came as it released strong financial figures for the third quarter. The company said it generated $353 million revenue for the third quarter, a 15 percent year-over-year increase that fueled a 34 percent surge in its net income.

It also said it closed Tuesday on a $450 million all-cash acquisition of STR Global, a Tennessee-based data firm that provides supply and demand insights on the hospitality industry. CoStar said it still has $1 billion in cash, and no debt.

CoStar said that it expects to generate between $1.385 billion and $1.391 billion revenue for 2019; up from $1.2 billion last year. It caps a solid stretch of growth for the company, which has a market cap of $20.93 billion. Its share price was $572.63 as the markets closed Tuesday, a jump from $382 a year ago.

The company has embarked on an aggressive acquisition spree in the past two years, which includes the additions of Realla, a major online commercial real estate marketplace in the United Kingdom, and Off Campus Partners, a student housing listing service that has contracts with 132 universities.

Earlier acquisitions also are paying off. The company said Apartments.com, which it acquired in 2013, generated 20 percent year-over-year revenue growth in the third quarter, and now has a revenue run rate of over $500 million for 2019. As a result, the company said it is doubling down on the platform, and would increase marketing spending to $250 million for 2020, up from $150 million this year.

For the first three quarters of the year, the company said that its net new sales bookings climbed an average $52 million a quarter, a 32 percent increase on the same period in 2018.

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