NWMLS (North West MLS) Threatens fines to its own realtors
There is a very intersting debate going on regarding a realtors
right to use the phrase "MLS" on their website or in their
Basically the discussion came about because a member of real estate webmasters who is also a realtor for John L Scott in Washington received an email from the NWMLS (North West MLS) threatening to fine him for using the phrase "Seattle MLS" in his description for his website posted here at REW. The gist of the description went like this:
"At my website you can search all active listings on the Seattle MLS"
My stance on this is that first a foremost, the NWMLS does not own the trademark or have a copyright on the acronym "MLS" nor do they have any claim on "Seattle MLS" as such they are in no legal position to start telling websites not associated with their members (Websites like mine) that I cannot use the phrase "Seattle MLS" - so come and get me NWMLS, I will post that phrase on my website all I want, and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it.
Second of all - in defense of the agent / REW member - I feel he should be able to say "Search the active listings on the Seattle MLS" because he is trying to capture search engine traffic that is relevant to his business and is a benefit to him, his broker AND NWMLS, I mean who do they think pays thier bills? Not only should he be able to optimize for the Phrase "Seattle MLS" because it is a benefit to all parties involved, he should also be able to because it is my opinion that when a user types in "Seattle MLS" they are actually looking for websites that display active homes for sale in Seattle, which is exactly what this agents website does.
The counter argument from the board is that the agent is decieving visitors by using the phrase MLS because NWMLS's definition of the "Seattle MLS" is the entire system used to store and distribute board data including active listings, solds, expired's and much more - so to say MLS is to deceive the user:
CMON NWMLS! - The only people that have that definition of MLS are board members, brokers and realtors. To the general public MLS is that thing they go to in order to search available inventory, as such in order to satisfy the public and maintain cemantic relevancy for search engines, they MUST be able to optimize and market with that term.
Finally, the only reason MLS is a searched term in the first place (And now has a different definition in the publics eyes) is because the Multiple Listings Services, the Brokers and the agents have misinformed the public to the point that now MLS is a coloquialism or synonym for "Home Search" - so now that it is a matter of public acceptance, you have distroyed the credibility of your argument, you can't just "have the term back" because you have decided you don't like the monster "YOU" created.
My solution - Change your acronym, rename the MLS to something no-one knows about and keep it to yourselves! Don't market it, educate your realtors and brokers not to market it, and it will never become an issue because the phrase will not become a popular coloquialism and then there won't be anyone searching for it, when really they mean something else.
How about NWMLIDN (North West Multiple Listings Internal Data Network)?
There you go! A new, proprietary acronym you can trademark and keep all to yourself.
If you agree with me, and want to support this article, the thread posted here, or the agent listed in the external links please link to this article with the following code:
NWMLS Bullies their own
Perhaps if this article outranks the NWMLS for their own name, they might sit up and take notice that this is NOT the kind of treatment their members expect.