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Google's move into mortgages spawns lawsuit

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Google's possible move into offering competitive mortgage quotes has sparked a lawsuit.

The search engine giant is allegedly in talks with Mortech, a provider of technology that helps automate lender offer pricing. Mortech already supplies this pricing engine technology to LendingTree, which is far from pleased at the prospect of its partner getting into bed with Google to offer a competitive loan aggregation service.

LendingTree, which offers consumers conditional loan offers as well as mortgage quotes, sued Mortech over alleged contract violations. In a statement, LendingTree explained that it called in its lawyers after failing to resolve the case amicably. The lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction preventing Mortech from assisting Google.

A hearing before the US District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (website) has been scheduled for 2 September. Dockets on the case can found here, though it requires a subscription to the US Court's PACER system.

Google is allegedly poised to offer loan quotes online almost immediately (at least in the US), The New York Times reports.

LendingTree has reportedly obtained screenshots of a trial version of Google’s service that shows how the search giant plans to present loan offers alongside contact information for various financial services firms.

Google, which is not a party to the suit, responded to the NYT's queries by saying it was looking into the competitive mortgage quotes business, at least in the US, without giving too much away about its product plans.

"We’re constantly looking for new ways to help people find what they are looking for on the Internet. As part of that effort, we are currently working on a small ad unit test that will run against a limited number of mortgage-related search queries in the US," it said.

Google Merchant Service experimented with a service in the UK that allowed customers to compare loan offers after submitting information about themselves last year, the New York Times adds. ®

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