The National Association of Realtors owns the registered trademark “Realtor”.

What, you thought Realtor and real estate agent meant the same thing?

Nope.

Anyone licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is called a real estate agent (actually, a real estate salesperson).

If a real estate agent chooses to join the National Association of Realtors, he or she can call himself / herself a “Realtor”. It’s a trade, professional, or social organization similar to the Better Business Bureau, the National Organization of Women, and NAMBLA.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) spends countless hours and boatloads of money (including my most of my membership fees, most likely) protecting its trademark.

Recently, a real estate agent in Texas was ordered to “cease-and-desist” from using “Realtor” as part of his website’s name.

Benn Rosales, a Realtor in Central Texas, has been weighing options for the RealtorGenius.com blog site he launched in May since the National Association of Realtors notified him the Web site name is an improper use of the trademarked “Realtor” term.

Because, not only is NAR obsessed with protecting its name, it also requires its members to only use its trademark in certain ways.

So, for example, I couldn’t call my website “BostonRealtor.com” unless my last name was “Boston”. I know, it sounds odd. I could call it “BostonRealtor.com” if my real estate company was named “Boston Realtor, Inc.”, however.

In the past, several individuals and companies have found out, too late, that they can’t register names with “Realtor” in the title.

… Jacob Zimmerman, a former hotel management student at Cornell University … registered about 1,900 domain names containing the word “Realtor” and hoped to profit from the sale of the Web site addresses.

He sued, but “In April 2004, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board unanimously ruled in a 39-page opinion that the terms “Realtor” and “Realtors” are not generic terms.

So, basically, he wasted a lot of money.

Locally, one Boston agent naively purchased the BostonRealtor.com website name. For, I think, around $10,000. Her last name was not “Boston”. Subsequently, she found out that she couldn’t use the website.

Unless she changed her last name to “Boston”.

Which she did.

Which she did.

And, subsequently, she left the business.

Left the business.

Actually, left the country (for a year, so far …).

More: NAR requests name change for RealtorGenius blog – By Glenn Roberts Jr., Inman News (subscription required)

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Updated:  1st Q 2018

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