99.co’s founder says company does not own Xpressor app

99.co’s founder says company does not own Xpressor app

Propertyguru and 99.co collage
Screengrabs of the PropertyGuru and 99.co websites.

SINGAPORE: The CEO of online property portal 99.co took the stand in the High Court on Friday (Sep 22), denying all allegations made by PropertyGuru, which is suing 99.co over alleged copyright infringements.

On the third day of a five-day hearing, 99.co's co-founder and CEO Darius Cheung was cross-examined by PropertyGuru's lawyer Sathinathan Karuppiah.

The exchange was centered around the Xpressor mobile app, which PropertyGuru has accused 99.co of using to induce agents to breach its policies.

The app, which launched in June 2015, allows real estate agents to cross-post their PropertyGuru listings on 99.co.

Mr Cheung said that 99.co did not own the app, and that it instead belonged to Media Publishing Group (MPG), Xpressor’s parent company.

He said 99.co had only bought the Xpressor application programming interface (API), and eventually used it to develop and maintain the Xpressor app, but its copyright still belongs to MPG.

Mr Karuppiah asked Mr Cheung why the Xpressor app could only transfer listings and photographs from PropertyGuru onto 99.co.

The CEO responded that he had “mutually agreed” with MPG’s director Michael Koh that “priority” would be given for PropertyGuru listings to be cross-posted on 99.co, but that they had plans to further develop the app and allow agents to cross-post onto other property sites as well.

However, the Xpressor app was eventually removed from Google Play store and Apple App Store in January 2016 before 99.co and MPG could do so. 

PropertyGuru is suing its rival for unspecified damages, claiming that 99.co had copied content from its website after photographs carrying PropertyGuru’s watermark appeared on 99.co.

99.co is counter-suing PropertyGuru for groundless threats of legal proceedings.

The trial continues on Tuesday. 

Source: CNA/ad