Saunders Real Estate was discovered last month to be the owner of SusanBreitenbach.com, which happens to be the name of one of Corcoran's top Hamptons brokers (who curiously didn’t already own her own domain name). Until Corcoran's lawyers got involved, if a visitor typed this URL into their browser, they would have been automatically redirected to SaundersRE.com. Clever!
Corcoran was, understandably, not pleased. And although Saunders explained that part of their rapid success in the Hamptons had been due, in no small part, to a "very aggressive web strategy" that involved the purchase of all sorts of names, they conceded that they might have gone a wee bit too far with Breitenbach and they agreed to return the domain name to her. (Breitenbach has ignored our requests to confirm whether or not she's actually received the domain name, though.)
But now the saga continues! Prudential Douglas Elliman - the largest firm in the Hamptons - has now just filed a lawsuit against Saunders for the same issue; two of their top East End brokers (Lori Barbaria and Michaela Keszler) similarly had their domain names registered by Saunders and had them redirected to their website. Click here to view the complaint (PDF).
In Elliman's suit, they specifically accuse Saunders of concocting a “cyberpiracy” scheme to “slyly and stealthily” divert potential clients. Simply returning the domain names is apparently not an acceptable resolution for Elliman...they're also asking for an unspecified damage award, saying their business was affected.
· Hamptons real estate firm sues over Web identities [Newsday]
· Douglas Elliman LLC versus Saunders & Associates [Suffolk County Clerk]
· All Previous Saunders Coverage [Curbed Hamptons]