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LendingTree: Google To Compete On Loan Referrals

A Google move into the lending referral business would be one more step away from its core business, said Rob Enderle, an analyst for the Enderle Group.

"It could represent a solid threat to LendingTree, and a distraction for Google," Enderle said.

LendingTree, a unit of Tree.com Inc., announced the lawsuit on Wednesday, a day after it was filed in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the company is based.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction against a company called Mortech Inc., which helps automate pricing by lenders who are offering loans. The lawsuit says Mortech works for lenders, not for LendingTree. But LendingTree claims Mortech signed an agreement limiting its ability to make pricing searches available to other online loan aggregators. LendingTree claims Mortech has broken that agreement by giving data related to mortgage offers to Google in connection with Google's testing.

"In the course of its collaboration with Google, Mortech will inevitably disclose the confidential, proprietary, and secret information that it has about LendingTree," LendingTree claims in the court papers.

A Mortech spokeswoman as well as Google declined to comment on the lawsuit. A court hearing is planned for Sept. 2.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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