Hamish Fletcher

Hamish Fletcher is a business reporter for the NZ Herald

Terralink on trail of data

Property Guru's provider wants to find any information that might have been copied.

City Realty, one of six defendants, trades as Ray White City Apartments and is seen as one of central Auckland's top real estate firms. Photo / Brett Phibbs
City Realty, one of six defendants, trades as Ray White City Apartments and is seen as one of central Auckland's top real estate firms. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Terralink International - which has accused a top Auckland real estate firm of taking its information to establish a rival business - is trying to find where any copies of its database have ended up.

The former state-owned enterprise runs the Property Guru service and believes a group has been unlawfully using its data.

As a result Terralink is suing six parties including City Realty, which trades as Ray White City Apartments and is seen as one of central Auckland's top real estate firms.

After Terralink gained a search order from the High Court last week, forensic experts from PwC are understood to have searched City Realty's CBD offices and are now holding copies of a computer database.

Terralink has applied to the court to let PwC trawl through this database and discussed the matter before Justice Graham Lang in Auckland yesterday.

Terralink's lawyer, Andrew Brown, QC, said his client was "anxious to find out where any other copies of its database may have gone so as to preserve its position - and to simply trace the copies to ensure no further use or dissemination of it in any form whatsoever".

In an earlier statement to the Herald, Terralink said search orders were necessary because it believed the defendants in the case had "unlawfully obtained intellectual property" in order to establish a rival business.

City Realty's sales manager, Phil Horrobin, said the company would "vigorously defend" the allegations. "If any inappropriate or illegal action on behalf of the company is uncovered it will be dealt with immediately and with appropriate action," he said.

Other defendants include Horrobin himself, former Ray White salesman Aaron Hudson and Senthil Perumal, who is understood to be a current employee of City Realty.

Data Source, a local firm whose director is a City Realty shareholder, is also listed as a defendant, as is a company registered in Singapore.

Noel Ingram, QC, who is acting on behalf of City Realty and Horrobin, said his clients were also interested in finding out what happened with the database.

"The first defendant and Mr Horrobin are keen to establish how these matters occurred."

Ingram also said the court orders were preventing City Realty from accessing parts of its own databases.

"The first defendant together with its employees and agents are unable to use aspects of its own database, aspects which are simply unconnected with the Terralink database ... quite as simple as names, addresses, telephone numbers and emails which all become important in terms of communication with clients and prospective clients."

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