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Don't Use the Word "Realtor" - It's Trademarked

Discussion in 'Legal Issues' started by Surf_Dude, Apr 20, 2006.

  1. #1
    I am currently under attack for using the word "realtor" on my web pages.
    This sounds bogus to me.

    Here is the official email from realtors.org -

    "Dear Mr. Vaughn:

    As the trademark administrator in the Legal Affairs Division of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS , I was forwarded a copy of a web page: vaughns-1-pagers.com/local/seattle-realtors.htm to review this page’s use of the REALTOR marks. Because members of the National Association and the public associate the REALTOR marks with participation in the REALTOR organization, the National Association has established a comprehensive program to monitor the proper use of its marks. After reviewing the content of this page, it appears that while some of your uses of this term are correct, (specifically when you name two of our Boards, the Washington Association of REALTORS and the Seattle-King County Association of REALTORS) most of the uses of the Marks on this page are incorrect.

    The terms REALTOR, REALTORS, and REALTOR-ASSOCIATE, as well as the REALTOR block "R" logo, are all federally registered collective membership marks owned by the National Association. Collective membership marks are a type of trademark which, rather than indicating the source of a product or service, identify the user of the membership mark as a member of a particular group, in this case the National Association. The term “Realtors” should not be used as a synonym for a real estate agent/salesperson/broker or to generically describe an occupation. Since this term is a collective membership mark, and not all real estate professionals are our Members, it should never be used in a context which indicates that all real estate professionals are REALTORS regardless of their status as a Member of the REALTOR organization.
    SEMrush
    We would appreciate your cooperation in revising some of the content of this webpage. Specifically, we request that you remove the membership marks from the phrases, “Seattle Realtor Agents,” “Home realtors in the Seattle, Washington. . .” “many professional realtors. . .” and “other professional realtors” as well as the links you are using to other real estate pages with city names, Sacramento Realtors San Bernardino Realtors - San Diego Realtors - San Francisco Realtors - San Jose Realtors - Santa Cruz Realtors - Seattle Realtors. We suggest you replace the marks with words such as real estate agents, brokers, salespeople or real estate professionals.

    Mr. Vaughn, I would appreciate your confirmation that you understand this issue and will comply with our request. If you have any questions, please contact me.

    Sincerely,

    Mary Newill, Trademark Administrator
    Legal Affairs Department
    NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
    430 N. Michigan
    Chicago, IL 60611-4087
    800/874-6500 ext. 8380"

    Can this possibly be true?
    Must I refrain from using the word "realtor"?
    A "realtor" is a "realtor" because that is what they are, not because of some restricted designation, defined by some trade organization. In order to use the term "realtor", it must be blessed by realtors.org, according to them.
    Do you believe this?
    Comments please.
     
    Surf_Dude, Apr 20, 2006 IP
    SEMrush
  2. cormac

    cormac Peon

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    #2
    They sure have made a point in having ® on most if not all of their pages, look at the results in Google.

    If it was me I would pull the content - the company I work for send out these emails daily and are more than prepared to take court action.

    Hopefully someone on here has more experience in the legal field and can advise you better.
     
    cormac, Apr 20, 2006 IP
  3. sachin410

    sachin410 Illustrious Member

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    #3
    Realtor is a trademark for sure and you cannot use it unless you are associated with NAR

    Source : Investopedia
     
    sachin410, Apr 20, 2006 IP
  4. browntwn

    browntwn Illustrious Member

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    #4
    I hate to tell you, but in my opinion you need to stop using that word.

    While it may sound like a regular word, it is in fact, a trademarked term.

    See dictionary.com for proof

    Some words, which are brand names, can through common usage become so ordinary that they are no longer protected. That is not the case with this word.

    When some one asks for klenex, they mean a tissue, because the brand name is so common that for most people it means the same thing. Check kleenex at uspto here

    Your use of Realtor may seem innocent, but they actively protect their mark, if they don't, they will lose it.

    I think you should comply, but you may be able to find similar alternative.

    I suggest spending some time searching trademarks at uspto.gov. Start with the word realtor.

    If your site makes enough money, you should seek paid legal advice.
     
    browntwn, Apr 20, 2006 IP
  5. Jim Guinn

    Jim Guinn Peon

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    #5
    Yup, you have to pull it or face legal consequences. Use "Real Estate Agent" or "Agent" in its place.

    Jim
     
    Jim Guinn, Apr 20, 2006 IP
  6. Surf_Dude

    Surf_Dude Peon

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    #6
    Wow.
    Thanks guys.
    News to me.
    I'll fix it.

    I still feel such a generic term as realtor should not be trademarked.
    How does an "official" realtor differ from a "regular" realtor.
    A rose by any other name is still a rose.
    So, no person in the world may use the word "realtor", unless blessed by the realtor police? That's just crazy.

    salesman?
    dentist?
    doctor?
    trucker?
    Nope. Just realtor. Unbelievably political, signifying nothing but silliness.

    But thank you, folks. I'll live and learn.
     
    Surf_Dude, Apr 21, 2006 IP
  7. Colbyt

    Colbyt Notable Member

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    #7
    You are smart to pull the word from your site. This you can't win.

    All Realtors are "official". They maintain that status and protect that trademark by sending out lots of letters like the one you received.

    I can't recall the history at the moment but the term Realtor is actually a coined term created by the National Association of Realtors. Therefore they were allowed to trademark the name. They have done a much better job of protecting it than Xerox has done for copies.

    There are real estate brokers and agents licensed in all 50 states for the purpose of selling property. Many of those people choose to join the association and become Realtors.
     
    Colbyt, Apr 21, 2006 IP
  8. wheel

    wheel Peon

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    #8
    that's news to me too. I agree, pull the term - and I'd probably send them a pleasant thank you note since they were nice enough to send you a gentle reminder instead of getting all C&D on you.
     
    wheel, Apr 24, 2006 IP
  9. Matteh

    Matteh Peon

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    #9
    you will get digitalpoint sent a letter for using it to much in this post:/
     
    Matteh, Apr 25, 2006 IP
  10. Roman

    Roman Buffalo Tamer™

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    #10
    Reading the original post my first thought was some competitor was trying to get you to change your pages and lose your SE rankings, but as they say; you learn something new every day.

    I dub myself a realtor, being Canadian I think it's OK;)
     
    Roman, Apr 25, 2006 IP
  11. gworld

    gworld Prominent Member

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    #11
    Trademarks are tricky questions. There is a trademark for term Realtor, you can look at here. It will be OK until no one has challenged it but I don't think this will survive a legal challenge, because it is too common word.
    If you are outside of USA, the trademark will not apply and even if they go to court, any financial award is based on actual damage and it you are not a Realtor organization that competes with them, the award will be none. ;)
     
    gworld, Apr 30, 2006 IP
  12. Jim Lee

    Jim Lee Greenhorn

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    #12
    The word "REALTOR" identifies a current member of the National Association of REALTOR (NAR). It is a federally registered trademark just like McDonald's and Coca Cola. It can only be used to identify current members of NAR or their firms. Any other use for any other reason is incorrect and a trademark violation subject tot he trademark laws.
    And even for NAR members there are guidelines for its use. It can only be used with your name, e.g. Jim Lee, REALTOR or your firm name, RE/MAX Shoreline, REALTORS. Any other use is a violation.
    You can't be "The World's Greatest Realtor", YourRealtor.com or any other imaginative use.
     
    Jim Lee, Oct 16, 2017 IP
  13. alyciajohn

    alyciajohn Peon

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    #13
    Let's start with the meaning of the word, "Meshugas" (pronounced Meshoo-gahz"). Meshugas refers to something that is "meshuga". Meshuga, a Yiddish word, refers to something that is "crazy, foolish, or senseless". Unfortunately, there is no monopoly on the word, meshugas. But there supposedly is, on the word, "realtor"
     
    alyciajohn, Oct 16, 2017 IP
  14. arnold2001

    arnold2001 Active Member

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    #14
    The word Realtor does not exist in everyday language. They spend millions of dollars branding it. Would rather buy a home using a Realtor or a salesman? By the way I have across many Realtors that are dumb as dirt, but their credibility rises instantly by using such a name. Realtors spend about $200 a year to use the term. Imagine 300,000 persons paying $200 a year to use such a term. Would you protect your golden goose?.
     
    arnold2001, Mar 29, 2018 IP
  15. ShortGuyzRule

    ShortGuyzRule Member

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    #15
    as retarded as that sounds, it's actually 100% True... That's actually the difference between a "Real Estate Agent" and a "Realtor" - Membership in the NAR....Real Estate Agents pay OUT THE A** to be able to claim the title of "Realtor"... Why? IDFK - if I were looking to buy a house, I wouldn't frankly give a flying F whether it was through a "Real Estate Agent" or a "Realtor" - but that's just me personally...but yes, as you can see, they fiercely defend that purely self-manufactured "Status Symbol"...
     
    ShortGuyzRule, Mar 30, 2018 IP
  16. ShortGuyzRule

    ShortGuyzRule Member

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    #16
    @alyciajohn VERY Close - almost got it - "mashugana" (Sorry The Jew in me had to protect the integrity of our cherished yiddish) :-P
     
    ShortGuyzRule, Mar 30, 2018 IP