Less than a month after launching in New York City, virtual brokerage eXp Realty is in hot water with a local competitor claiming trademark infringement.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, EXP Realty Advisors, a boutique commercial real estate firm in Midtown, accused the newcomer of “false advertising” and “cybersquatting,” after it allegedly registered domain names and social media accounts that are confusingly similar to its own.
According to the suit, EXP Realty Advisors has been in business since 2009. Although it never registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, it’s been using certain “marks” — or logos — to advertise its services for the past decade.
In the complaint, EXP claims eXp was fully aware of this fact. In April, the suit said, an affiliate of the virtual firm named Robert Creamer emailed EXP to ask about acquiring the name “eXp Commercial” since it was planning a foray into commercial brokerage.
Despite EXP’s resistance, the suit said, eXp has “continued their use of confusingly similar marks, and in fact have begun to use such marks in connection with commercial real estate services.” Earlier this month, EXP alleges, a residential agent in New York mistakenly wrote to the commercial brokerage asking join its ranks.
Founded in 2009 by CEO Glenn Sanford, eXp is one of the fastest-growing residential brands in the U.S. It had 15,570 agents at the end of 2018, up from 2,401 in 2016. It’s since surpassed 18,000 agents.
The Bellingham, Wash.-based firm launched in New York City this month, after hosting info sessions for agents at the Park Lane Hotel in April.
Kim Canvan is eXp’s managing broker for New York; Matt Parrella is heading eXp’s New York City operation.
In the suit, EXP said it was seeking damages, to be determined at a jury trial. It also asked the court to have eXp destroy all labels, brochures and social media posts that are confusing, and cancel its websites or transfer them to EXP.
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