Blogs and Forums Breaking Laws - Realtor in a forum or blog nickname
As many of you know (And those that don't really should) the term
"Realtor®" is a registered membership mark belonging to all members
of the National Association Of Realtors. As a membership mark, it
is used to identify a member as belonging to the NAR and has very
specific rules in terms of how it can be used on the web - (In
domain names, email addresses etc)
What many of you don't know (And until I had a chat with the NAR's trademark administrator a few weeks ago neither did I) is that these same rules still apply when it comes to their use in forums, blogs (Weblogs) and any other situation identifying or being associated with a user.
Instead of explaining in my own words how this effects you, I am going to post (As she has given me permission to do in order to educate NAR members) the email that Mary Newill of the NAR was kind enough to draft up for me.
Thank you for your telephone call today questioning the use of Chicago Realtor as a user name. We appreciate your help in explaining this misuse to this Member.
The use of the terms REALTOR and REALTORS is licensed to Members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS to identify themselves as Members of this organization; but there are rules they are required to abide by when using these terms.
The terms were originally coined by a member of the National Association in 1915 to identify members of his local association from nonmember real estate licensees. They were then adopted by the National Association to apply nationally in 1916. Following the passage of the Lanham Act in 1946, which made it possible for the first time to register membership marks as a type of trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office the National Association filed applications for the registration of both REALTOR and REALTORS as collective membership marks. The rules and policies pertaining to the use of these terms were designed to encourage the widest possible fair and consistent use of the Marks while at the same time preserving and perpetuating their meaning and identifying function.
In domain names, email addresses, user names etc. Members can use the terms REALTOR or REALTORS in with their name, or if they are a broker with the complete name of their firm. Chicago Realtor's misuse of the REALTOR marks is an example of a common error. Instead of identifying someone as a Member the term is used with a term intended to describe something about the person or his services. This use violates Article V, Section 7 of the Bylaws which expressly prohibits the use of any descriptive words or phrases with the membership marks, including geographical descriptions such as state or city names. The only exception to this rule was created for the State and local boards and associations. They were authorized the right to use a geographical description consistent with their assigned jurisdiction, together with the membership marks. This makes sense, as the Boards and Associations are made up of many Members (REALTORS) in one area and no one Member can appropriate the membership mark for any geographical location. This would not be fair to other Members (REALTORS) in that same area.
Chicago REALTOR does not specifically identify a Member, but presents this term generically, that is outside the context of membership. It could easily be misinterpreted as a synonym for any real estate agent/broker/salesperson rather than correctly identifying a Member. To help retain the registration of the REALTOR membership marks we request those involved with the real estate business never display the Marks in any generic way. The term REALTOR is the one universal way members of the Association have to distinguish themselves from all others in the real estate profession. Each time these Marks are used correctly by our Members, the value of the term REALTOR is increased not only for that user, but also for every other member of the Association.
Legal Affairs Division
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
What this means to bloggers and members of forums or discussion
- You actually have to be a member of the NAR in order to use the term "Realtor" at all in your username.
- Your username must be used in accordance with the guidelines set out by the NAR - basically if you are an "agent" you can only use the term "Realtor" in conjunction with your name as in "Realtor Jim Olenbush" or "Jim Olenbush Realtor" (Jim I hope you don't mind me using your name here, let me know and I will change it) or if you are a broker, you can also use your full firm name such as "Realtor Jim Olenbush Cantera Real Estate" or "Realtor Jim Olenbush Cantera Real Estate"
- Most importantly if you are using the term "Realtor" in an
in-appropriate manner, you must change it. To do otherwise means
that you are (After you have read this) knowingly violating the