Lending Tree Lawsuit Suggests That Google's Going into the Mortgage Business
Lending Tree, the online mortgage loan aggregator, has been going through a rough time lately. First, it learned that Google plans to start its own loan information service. That alone would be bad enough since it's pretty tough to beat Google in the search-for-information game.
But to make matters worse, Lending Tree also found out that Mortech, its preferred provider of pricing services for its lenders, was throwing its hat in with Google and providing the search giant with information about mortgage offers.
Not so fast, said Lending Tree. The company claims in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday that an agreement it entered into with Mortech prohibits the company from sharing mortgage information with anyone except Lending Tree, and now Lending Tree wants the court to declare that Moretch breached the contract and enjoin the company from sharing any information with Google in the future.
Google, for its part, won't say anything about whether or not it's planning to provide a loan offer aggregation service in the future, claiming only that it is "working on a small ad unit test" involving mortgage-related searches.
An interesting question in all this is whether, assuming that Google is planning a mortgage loan aggregation tool, the company would have a claim for violation of trade secrets. Lending Tree claims to have screen shots of the product that Google is testing, which would definitely impact Google's competitive edge in the mortgage loan aggregation market. If Google took adequate steps to protect the product from exposure, than they might have a trade secrets case on their hands.
One open question, though: who leaked the screen shots?
Lending Tree Complaint Revealing Google Mortgage Product