PropertyGuru executive director and co-founder Jani Rautiainen.
Singapore’s High Court on Friday (9 Mar) ruled in favour of property portal PropertyGuru in its case against 99.co.
Justice Hoo Sheau Peng concluded that a 2015 settlement agreement between both parties was breached by 99.co after it substantially reproduced content from PropertyGuru, including property listings.
She added that PropertyGuru can claim damages based on the breach of agreement.
While the court did not find that 99.co actively caused property agents to breach their contract with PropertyGuru, Justice Hoo ruled that it must stop using the Posting Assistance Service. This service was used to duplicate PropertyGuru’s listings to 99.co’s website.
The court also threw out a counterclaim brought by 99.co against PropertyGuru for groundless threats of legal proceedings of copyright infringement.
Commenting, PropertyGuru’s executive director and co-founder Jani Rautiainen said today’s verdict sends a strong message about fair play and good business ethics.
“The defendant broke the rules and we are happy that the court today has validated that. The defendant must stop reproducing our listings.
“There are no shortcuts to success. If a business takes an unfair shortcut and breaks the rules, it should be held to account for it,” he told the media.
Started 10 years ago as a homegrown Singaporean start-up, Rautiainen shared that PropertyGuru has grown “through sheer hard work, diligence and innovation”.
“We have always welcomed competition as it keeps us sharp and it gives the consumer more choice.”
The court also dismissed the claim of copyright infringement. Still, PropertyGuru believes it has a compelling case against 99.co.
“We will review the merits of the decision with our lawyers and then decide our next course of action.
“Fair competition in the market is in the property seeker’s best interest. For that to happen, we need all players in the market to behave in an ethical way and compete on fair grounds,” noted Rautiainen.