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softstor
07-22-2004, 01:56 PM
I have a domain with the word 'realtor' inside it. Today I received an email from the National Association of Realtors stating that the word 'realtor' is trademarked under their organization and no website or domain may contain this name.

I am told that I must rename my domain or face legal action.

If I were to change my domain name, it is like starting a website from scratch.

Can an organization trademark a general word such as realtor and force all other websites to remove it?

the_sandking
07-22-2004, 02:46 PM
goog
I have a domain with the word 'realtor' inside it. Today I received an email from the National Association of Realtors stating that the word 'realtor' is trademarked under their organization and no website or domain may contain this name.

I am told that I must rename my domain or face legal action.

If I were to change my domain name, it is like starting a website from scratch.

Can an organization trademark a general word such as realtor and force all other websites to remove it?
From Merriam Webster:

Main Entry: Re·al·tor http://www.m-w.com/images/audio.gif (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:popWin%28%27/cgi-bin/audio.pl?realto01.wav=Realtor%27%29)
Pronunciation: 'rE(-&)l-t&r, -"tor, ÷'rE-l&-t&r also rE-'al-t&r
Function: collective mark
-- used for a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=Realtors)

They may in fact have you in a corner here. If they own the term, you gotta belong, or pay them to use the trademark. I would speak to an attorney.

In the meantime, you should answer their email and request written legal verification that they own anything and everything with the word "realtor" in it. That's the first thing a lawyer would do anyway, make them prove their claims by providing physical evidence.

IN a pinch, you could maybe transfer the domain name to someone who is a member "Realtor" of the NAR (or become one yourself) and then there shouldn't be a problem, as the term "realtor" describes a "member" of their club. I doubt the NAR would pick-on one of their dues-paying club members.

Mick
07-22-2004, 03:16 PM
At least a few times every year agent's or other people file lawsuits challenging NAR's "realtor" trademark claiming it had become a generic name and thus was no longer a valid trademark name and thus allowing anybody to use the word Realtor to describe a Real Estate Agent.

For those who are not familar with trademark law, once a trademarked name becomes so common to describe a product of that particular type, the trademark name can no longer be enforced: i.e. Band-Aid, Coke etc.... these are names that have become so common that people use that trademarked name to describe anything in that category... when you get hurt you ask for a band-aid... when you order a cola drink at a resturant you ask for a coke.


The link below is something I found very quickly on NAR's website.. it's a win for them in 2002, however I get a kick out of their great evidence... a telephone survey of Real estate professionals asking what the term Realtor Means to them... and.. on those Real estate professionals only 84% said it ment the person was a member of the NAR. If somebody filed the same suit with a true scientific survey of normal people, the people that the trademark status should truely be based on then I bet the results would be heavily in the oppisite direction.
http://www.realtor.org/realtororg.nsf/pages/trademarkwin?OpenDocument

Keep in mind, if you're a member then you can use the realtor name legally... however... if you are a member then you've also accepted their license which also means that you cannot challenge the trademark status (funny how they've squeezed that into their license agreement don't you think?)

ereed
07-22-2004, 03:46 PM
I think they just published an article about this on one of their web pages or journals. If I remember correctly, they do not allow members to use it as part of the domain name, i.e. you could not use www.joetherealtor even if you were a member of NAR.

Check the website for recent articles on restrictions of use or articles on technology.

If I find it I will include a link.

Ed

lasor
07-22-2004, 04:33 PM
I can not offer any advice on this as I am not at all knowledgeable in the laws of trademark law. However I can add my story which may give some guidance. Some years back I worked for a computer company we will call "cpu" (so as not to upset anybody) as an employee of company "cpu", (whose head office was located in the USA) I was given shares as bonus payments. To cut a long story short the company registered their name as a trademark and registered the domains "cpu".co.uk and "cpu".com. I later registered the name "cpu".net. I refused to hand over the domain name and after 2 years of battling with the company, it was decided that I could keep the name. The reason behind this was. If I had just been an employee or member of the company I was not entitled to use the name in any form, however as a shareholder I was classed in a small way as part owner in the company and therefore was allowed to use the name and all benifits associated with it.

I later sold them the name for a small propfit and left the company !!!!

Hope this helps in some way