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Tree.com Loses Lending-Patent Trial Against Zillow, Nextag

Tree.com Inc., (TREE) operator of the LendingTree.com home loan site, lost a trial in which it accused competitors including Zillow Inc. of infringing patents related to ways to borrow money over the Internet.

Zillow, operator of the largest real-estate information website; Adchemy Inc.; and Nextag Inc. didn’t infringe the patents. The federal jury today in Charlotte, North Carolina, also invalidated the patents. Tree.com said it intends to appeal.

The two patents, issued in 2002 and 2003, relate to a process for coordinating loans over the Internet. Charlotte-based Tree.com, whose site seeks to match lenders with people in need of a mortgage, car loan or credit card, filed the lawsuit in 2010 and the trial began Feb. 10.

The jury rejected antitrust claims against Tree.com, and the verdict won’t hurt the company’s ability to offer its products, Tree.com said in a statement. It said the verdict also won’t alter the company’s 2014 projections.

Seattle-based Zillow had no immediate comment.

The case is Lending Tree LLC v. Zillow Inc. (Z), 10cv439, U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (Charlotte).

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net Elizabeth Wasserman, Romaine Bostick

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