Using the REALTOR® Membership Mark – Guidelines and Information

Guidelines and Information Regarding Use and Misuse of REALTOR®

How are you using the registered membership mark REALTOR®?  A few folks have contacted me recently asking how they can change their ActiveRain Profile user name, their Blog name, and their Outside Blog domain names?  The reason?  Because they had used the registered membership mark REALTOR® within their URL.  It is very important that you understand and know how, when, and where you can use REALTOR®.

Just yesterday, I was contact by an AR member who received the email warning below.  They are not a REALTOR® yet they were using the membership mark REALTOR® in the domain name (URL) of their AR Outside Blog.  (I changed the members names and domains below for obvious reasons.)  

ACTUAL EMAIL #1

Dear Jane Doe:

“The Internet domain name BestDealForREALTORS.com has been identified by the National Association of REALTORS as one in which the membership mark of the National Association of REALTORS (National Association) is used as a part of the domain name.  The domain name came to our attention as a result of our monitoring of the Internet for use of the REALTOR membership marks.  

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.

According to our records you are currently not a member of the National Association and therefore, your use of the membership mark is incorrect.  Because the use has not been authorized by the National Association it may also be viewed as an infringement of the National Association’s legal rights in its membership marks under the federal Lanham Act and other state and federal laws.  In addition, the National Association does not license third parties to use its marks in connection with the names of the products and services of those third parties. To eliminate this potential source of conflict, we would appreciate your cooperation in revising your site and domain name to eliminate the use of the membership marks.  Many times this is as simple as substituting an appropriate job title for the term being used; for example, real estate broker or agent can often be used without making any other changes to the text.

We are attempting to track our efforts in connection with the Internet and request that you acknowledge your understanding of this request for your cooperation by providing us with your assurance that you will not use the domain name BestDealforREALTORS.com or any other domains that incorrectly use the REALTOR marks.  Thank you for your help and we look forward to receiving your reply.”

Trademark/Insurance Coordinator
National Association of REALTORS®
430 N Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611-4087

In another case, here’s an email that a member received instructing them on “how” the Trademark REALTOR® can be used properly, and within the NAR suggested guidelines.  There were a couple things I didn’t know which have helped me detect the accidental or unintentional misuse of REALTOR® out on the web.  Please review this email as well.

ACTUAL EMAIL #2

Dear John Doe:

“The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS has identified the Internet domain name, BayAreaREALTOR.com, as one in which the membership marks of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (National Association) are used as a part of the domain name.  We discovered the domain name in our routine monitoring of the Internet for use of the REALTOR membership marks.  The National Association requests that you comply with the rules developed by the National Association to preserve and protect the Membership marks and discontinue using the BayAreaREALTOR.com domain name.  You may review these rules at the National Association’s Trademark Manual found on REALTOR.org in the Law & Policy section.  I have also included a copy of the brochure “On Your Mark” in the pdf below.

Proper use of the Marks on the Internet
The terms REALTOR, REALTORS, REALTOR ASSOCIATE, as well as the REALTOR with Block “R” logo, are all federally registered collective membership marks owned exclusively 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 National Association has approximately 1,200,000 members each of whom is licensed to use one or more of the membership marks to identify themselves and as Members individually and through their real estate businesses.  Each member of the National Association agrees, as a part of their local Association’s Bylaws, to abide by the rules governing the use of the REALTOR marks.  These rules apply to print and electronic media.  In a domain name Members can use the REALTOR marks with a member’s name and, if the member is a broker, with the complete name of the broker’s real estate firm.  Below are examples of proper ways in which a member can use the REALTOR marks in a domain name.

JohnDoeRealtor.com, JDoeRealtor.com, JohnRealtor.com, ABCRealtyRealtors.com

Incorrect use of the REALTOR Marks
Please review Article V, Section 7 of the Bylaws of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. This article expressly prohibits the use of any descriptive words or phrases from being used with the Membership marks.  Mr. Doe, this includes geographical descriptions such as BayArea, only the state and local associations and boards were granted the right to use a geographical description with the membership marks.  For one Member to claim the membership mark in any geographical area where other Members also operate would not be a fair or equal use of the Marks to other Members who do business in that area.

Action Requested:  Change Domain Name
The National Association requests that you stop using the BayAreaREALTOR.com domain name including, but not limited to, use of the domain name on the Internet or on promotional and advertising materials for your business; or to redirect traffic to another website.  You may of course, register and use a new domain name that uses the REALTOR mark in a manner which complies with the rules of the National Association or select one which does not use the REALTOR marks.  

Because you are a member of the National Association and understand the importance of protecting the valuable REALTOR marks we are confident you will make the right decision and end your use of the BayAreaREALTOR.com domain name.  We request that you promptly contact us and assure that you will comply with this request.  If you have any questions, please contact me.

Thank you for your cooperation.
 
Trademark Administrator
Legal Affairs Department
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
430 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611-4087


There’s more information and details regarding the registered membership mark REALTOR®
at REALTOR.org.  You can review their Trademark Manual.  These guidelines and this information is not just for ActiveRain members, this post is for anyone in the Real Estate Industry.  Especially those who are not NAR members or outside the Real Estate Industry.  We’re asking that members, and NAR members take careful consideration when creating user-names, domain names, and URLs for your Blogs and websites.  Please follow the proper NAR guidelines and protocol if you’re going to use REALTOR®.

If you are currently using REALTOR® improperly in your domain name, on your AR Blog, or your Outside Blog, (even your user name) please contact me right away so we can be proactive and get that taken care of for you.  Making the change or correction is an AR admin feature, and I’d be happy to help you.  Just contact me via email.  Lets prevent you from getting either of these above emails from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS.  Thanks for taking the time to read this, I hope the information is useful and helps clarify their guidelines.

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