Sarasota Association of Realtors Domain Theft - Fight SAR MLS Support Our Members


This is a long post but it is very important to me personally and it is also important to all REALTORS® – Please read the entire post (especially the end) as a very good friend of mine, Marc Rasmussen, is going through a very hard time right now – I owe him my support, and as a community, as hard working realtors and webmasters we all need to stick together and support each other in dark times such as Marc is going through right now.

Many of you might not already know: One of Real Estate Webmasters's proudest achievements and flagship portfolio websites is gone – I redirected it to another domain.

Because this is one of our oldest design / SEO projects, I have received many concerned or curious emails, private messages and phone calls (thank you for your interest and support btw), most to the effect of:

That was one of my favorite sites that you ever did. Last time I checked it was ranking #1 for everything in his market and he must have been getting a ton of traffic and leads, I just went there and it redirected to a new site – but I have to know, why would you / Marc get rid of such a killer site and risk losing all those rankings?

  • Why would I redirect a website that is a flagship for our portfolio?
  • Why would I redirect a website that I was so proud of?
  • Why would I redirect a website that had hundreds of #1 and thousands of top 10 search engine rankings?
  • Why would I redirect a website that generated over 700 unique visitors per day?
  • "Are you or Marc out of your mind?"

Why, you ask? Because we had no choice... Details below

Some history:

Like many Realtors, Marc purchased his domain when he knew absolutely nothing about the Internet (this was back in 2003). He read up on domains and search engines and encountered the usual information available back in the day – you know, it's important to have keywords in your domain, think about things that people type in when looking for houses for sale, or a Realtor.

He went down the list: " Nope, that's gone. Nope, some Realtor beat me to it. – OMG this is impossible, everything is gone!" What he ended up with was – "Are you kidding me? That was all that was available?" – I think we have all been there. That's how it goes really, there are only so many domains available and when you are late to the game, you kind of have to take whatever domain another Realtor or domain squatter hasn't taken yet. "Ok my domain sucks but when life gives you lemons..."

Marc ended up purchasing an Advanced Access website and started out on his journey towards local Internet domination, and he did pretty well. So well, in fact, that he managed to get first page search engine rankings for several terms including "Sarasota real estate", "Sarasota homes for sale", and yes, even "Sarasota MLS" – but working on his own search engine optimization (as anyone who works as hard and is as driven as Marc is will tell you) was incredibly time consuming, and ridiculously hard to keep up with (especially fighting an uphill battle due to the unfriendly nature of Advanced Access websites) – in fact to stay at the top, you basically have to stop being a Realtor for half of your day (every day) just to keep the positions you have already worked so hard to get – at some point you need to bite the bullet and hand your baby over to the professionals... I think everyone knows who he hired.

It was May 2005 when Marc came to me – Real Estate Webmasters was in its infancy (a year or so old) – in fact at that time it was not a company, it was a discussion board about search engine marketing and real estate that I had set up to facilitate communication between myself, my staff, a few Internet marketing friends and the SEO clients that I had in real estate at the time (I probably had less than 10). Our membership totaled 1000 or so, however probably half of them at the time were spam bots that I had banned but hadn't purged yet – in all reality there was probably less than 50 truly active members (Marc was member 303).

I can't tell you what an honor it is for me when someone who has worked so hard, putting their heart and soul into something that their livelihood depends on, hands their baby over to me and trusts me to take over such an important project. Their future and everything they have accomplished and are proud of, is now in my hands – you can be damn sure, that I am going to do my best to make sure that I take care of what was so carefully entrusted to me ... to this day, I have never forgotten.

So what happened next? Nothing much, really. All Marc, myself and my team did was spend hundreds of hours, and for Marc tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, building one of the most dominant local real estate websites the Internet has ever seen. As I referenced above, we ramped that puppy up so tight it was generating over 700 unique visitors per day! (And this is in the local real estate market of Sarasota, which has a population of less than 55,000).

Yes, my team and I got paid well for the work we did, "we earned it" and am I proud of the work that we did and what we accomplished.

But you know what I am much more proud of? Marc Rasmussen

I can tell you right now, the hours (hundreds of them), the hard work and the creativity that myself and my team put into that website are nothing compared to the hours, the blood, sweat and tears that Marc contributed. He truly embodies the spirit and understanding of "you get out of something what you put into it" – for us to have achieved what we did – I think you might begin to appreciate just how much Marc put into this project. How many hours of reading, learning, trial and error – the effort staggers me even now. How much time that he sacrificed, away from his wife and children – all of the things that he gave up in order to be able to take care of that family as only a truly great husband and father would do.

From client to friend...

You don't spend the amount of time with someone that I have with Marc, the late night phone calls or messenger conversations, the occasional disagreements, and not either develop a pretty serious hatred for the person or become true friends. I am lucky enough to call Marc Rasmussen my friend. Together we were able to achieve something amazing – a true testament to hard work, creativity, patience and ingenuity. and my relationship with Marc not only helped me build my business and this community into what it is today, it set a new standard for real estate websites and collaboration between Realtor and webmaster.

And now it's gone...

Redirected into oblivion – all our hard work, all our time spent, all that we have earned is gone because certain members of the Sarasota MLS board arbitrarily decided that it would be a good idea for them to do everything in their power to destroy what we had worked so hard to earn.

Why? Only they know why – but I have a few theories.

At the top of my list – ENVY.
Just who are these members of the board that voted to have Marc harassed and persecuted to the point that he felt he had no other choice than to redirect the domain in one final attempt to retain some portion of what we have worked so hard to achieve? They are other local Realtors, Marc's competition. The fact of the matter is we have held #1 rankings in Google and other search engines for virtually every coveted term in the Sarasota market. In the nearly 4 years that we have worked together, we have seen contenders come and go, throw thousands of dollars at wannabe knock off websites, hire the "best and the brightest" in the SEM world and probably spend a ton of their own time – only to fall short of their goal, and that goal is to dethrone us from our top search engine perch.

You members of the Sarasota MLS board should be ashamed of yourselves! You have every opportunity and a completely level playing field to compete with us. So you couldn't beat us? TRY HARDER! That is what you should have done – we would have welcomed the challenge, and win or lose you could have maintained your dignity and integrity – but instead you took the low road and waited like jackals for any opportunity to motivate and coerce your fellow board members into taking unfair and completely unjust action. This opportunity came in the form of "Article 12 of the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics".

For those that don't know – I don't want to detract from the purpose of this post so I will be brief in my explanation of Article 12. In a nutshell – the NAR adopted a new stance on the use of the acronym "MLS" in a Realtor's domain name – basically stipulating that "at their discretion" MLS boards could adopt new policies prohibiting the use of MLS in a Realtor's domain. In my opinion, the NAR did not practice any measure of responsible due diligence before adopting this addition to the COE and it was extremely poorly received by its membership as evidenced by the extreme negative reaction by the Realtor / webmaster community as a whole and the emergence of several petition websites such as "Free The MLS" aimed at convincing the NAR to overturn their ruling.

Ryan Ward put it very poignantly when he stated

"In an effort to help to protect consumers, the NAR has set on a path of unintended consequences which will be more detrimental to the consumer than the intent of the initial change."

National Association of Realtors – if you are reading this, perhaps you now understand the impact that your decision has made – here we have a perfect example of "unintended consequences" opening the door for unjust persecution of one of your own members – I don't believe that it was your intention (or that you were even aware) that your decision would be used, not as a tool for the protection of the public as it was intended, but as a catalyst to inspire a plethora of witch hunts targeting Realtors – and who is targeting them? Other Realtors – specifically their local competition.

Back to our story...

You can bet that as soon as the Realtor vs. Realtor MLS domain name issue began to heat up, certain envious members of the Sarasota Association of Realtors seized the opportunity to convince other members (through misinterpretation or misdirection – my opinion) that something must be done about this Mr Rasmussen and his domain – after all, it has MLS in it.

Let's slap him with an ethics violation..

That's right – we were off to an ethics hearing. After years of using the domain name in good faith and with absolutely no intention of ever misleading the public in any way, we are all of a sudden forced to appear in front of the ethics counsel and defend our use of the domain name to a jury of Marc's peers. I say "we" because Marc is my friend, and you can bet that when that hearing was started, I was sworn in by a notary public as a professional witness for the defence to attempt to convince these people, Marc's peers, that not only were we acting in good faith, but that we were not attaining any unfair advantage through the use of this domain.

We pleaded our case, we articulated the facts and attempted to convince the panel that Marc's domain choice was an innocent and harmless event – we stated that at no time was any attempt made to convince our website visitors that instead of a Realtor's website, they were in fact at the official MLS site. In fact the website was clearly labeled with Marc's name, and a disclaimer explaining that his domain was NOT in fact the Sarasota Association of Realtors website, but a website owned and operated by an individual Realtor who offered assistance to buyers and sellers of residential properties in Sarasota Florida, and the surrounding markets.

And we won...

Marc is prohibited from discussing the outcome of his hearing, however I think it is fair to assume, that because after the hearing I was not asked to remove the domain nor did Marc transfer its ownership to the association, that he won his ethics hearing. This is supported by the fact that after the conclusion of the hearing the Sarasota Association of Realtors proceeded to escalate their persecution of Marc's ownership to the next level.

Enter ICANN...

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is a regulatory body charged with the responsibility to mediate and resolve domain disputes. After losing their attempt to find Marc guilty of any wrongdoing or ethical violation (as decided by a jury of his peers) the Sarasota Association of Realtors filed a complaint with ICANN – here is their official contention:

A. Complainant

Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to service marks in which Complainant has common law trademark/service mark rights.  They are:  “Sarasota MLS,” “Sarasota Multiple Listing Service,” “Sarasota Association of Realtors MLS,” and “Sarasota Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.”  The SARASOTA MLS mark is at issue here.  Complainant asserts that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and that Respondent operates a website using the domain name to mislead the public to believe that Respondent is the source or has control of the Sarasota Multiple Listing Service.  Complainant alleges that Respondent registered and is using the domain name in an effort to attract Internet users to his website for commercial gain by taking advantage of confusion with the Complainant’s mark and creating an impression that Complainant sponsors, endorses, is affiliated with or controlled by Respondent.


Yes, you read that right – even AFTER a jury of his peers found that Marc was in no way attempting to misrepresent himself as the official Sarasota MLS or was attempting to use his domain name to confuse the public, they STILL filed a complaint with ICANN.

What happened next, I will never understand...

Marc lost at his ICANN hearing and it was ordered that domain name be TRANSFERRED from Marc's ownership to The Sarasota Association of Realtors.

I could not believe what I was reading when I was sent the decision (which is public domain) – I have read and re-read the entire document and perhaps I am biased, but it seems that out of the committee only Diane Cabell managed to get it right.

In reading the dissent she says:

This Panelist is not convinced that Complainant established common law trademark rights prior to the registration of the domain.  None of Complainant’s historical exhibits showed a specific intention of using the term in a trademark sense; the term was used interchangeably as both a noun and adjective and never included any trademark symbol.  Symbols are not, of course, required, however Complainant had faithfully applied the symbol to its Sarasota Association of Realtors trademarks where they appeared in the same Exhibits.  My conclusion from the Exhibits is that Complainant used the term as the descriptive name of its database and gave no thought to any trademark status until Respondent and other realtors began using MLS in domain names.  I find insufficient evidence of trademark rights.

The board has no trademark rights to the domain or the phrase

In addition, Respondent submitted evidence that a major trade association publication advised local realtors to include the term “MLS” in their domain registration specifically to drive traffic to their sites; while the trade association may since have changed its opinion about that matter, the fact remains that Respondent had a reasonable basis for relying on the recommendation at the time when the domain was registered.

Even the NAR was advocating (in fact recommending) that Marc select the domain that he settled on

Lastly, the trade group’s ethics panel declined to censure Respondent for this domain registration.  Whether or not Respondent had any right to present the ethics decision in this case is a matter for the ethics panel to determine, but use of the decision here does nothing to prove that Respondent had any bad faith intention at the time the domain was registered.  I do not find the ethics opinion dispositive, but only one more link in the chain of evidence that Respondent believed he had a legitimate right to do as he did when he registered the domain.  Complainant’s remedy against bad faith use is under US law for which an action may be brought without regard to the domain registrant’s good faith at the time of registration.  The UDRP, however, requires that both registration and use be in bad faith.  I find no evidence of bad faith registration.

No evidence of bath faith registration? So why the decision in favor of the association? It makes no sense. It makes no sense to me, and it makes no sense to Marc, it even made no sense to Diane Cabell and she was on the tribunal. I am truly hoping that you, the readers will find this unjust decision as appalling as I do and help us make a stand here and now.

September's Google Analytics Report for – Sarasota Association of Realtors, are you satisfied?

What's done is done – now let's end this...

At this point, I think it is safe to say that Marc would be more than happy to move onto more productive things (like closing deals so that he can support his family) and I am hoping that the Sarasota Association of Realtors will be reasonable. However, based on their track record thus far, I am not confident that they will listen to reason.

In a perfect world – this sort of thing wouldn't happen but it did... if it were completely up to me, I would setttle with

The association would settle with respect to the current legal proceedings, allowing me to maintain control of the domain name for the sole purpose of being able to continue a series of custom redirects I have designed to allow us to conserve some portion of the authority that "we" have built over the years. Let us keep what we have worked so hard to build.

I would agree to never place another website on the domain or have it hosted at any time – it would stay a redirect and for all intents and purposes no longer exist, except as said redirect.

I would agree to remove this blog post from public view so that the Sarasota Association of Realtors can avoid any further embarrassment and salvage some portion of their reputation.

But it is not up to me, it's really Marc's call, I am just here to support him and hopefully the board will be willing to work something out.

The alternative: What we are prepared to do... Members, this is where Marc and I NEED YOUR HELP!

We need to let the Sarasota Association of Realtors, the National Association of Realtors, our peers and the general public know that this travesty of justice exists, and will not be tolerated.. If this kind of persecution is able to be swept under the rug then there is nothing to stop it from happening again – whether to another member of our community, or some Realtor unknown to us does not matter – it is not right, it is not ethical and if the associations who choose this path are not careful, someone will take them to task in the supreme court and I would not be surprised to find out that it is not legal.

How you can help resolve this matter:

Here are some ways you can help support us:

Send a letter / email to SAR...
...(the Sarasota Association of Realtors) asking them to listen to reason. Feel free to reference this post in any communications. If enough of us express our concern towards this kind of behaviour, perhaps they will realize the potential far-reaching implications of this situation and choose the better part of valor, and avoid a very public and potentially very embarrassing scandal.

Send a letter / email to NAR...
...(the National Association of Realtors) asking them to please reconsider their position on article 12. I think one of the most serious "unintended consequences" of their decision was that predatory Realtors / Associations use the decision out of context in attempts (like this one) to cause irreparable harm to another member's livelihood and earned search engine positioning (which, by the way, has nothing to do with the words being in the domain name).

Send emails to your peers:
Send a blast email to your contact list (your peers or anyone else who would care to stand up for someone's rights). The more awareness we can create, the more likely it is that we can apply enough pressure to the Association to convince them to listen to reason.

Write a blog post:
Syndicating quality content on the Internet is what we do, and it is one of the most effective ways to reach the millions of readers who would be appalled by this situation and be willing to help. Linking to this blog post and others like it will assist it in generating exposure in the search engines which will add additional exposure for the cause. Also through sharing different takes on a united perspective – perhaps SAR will find enough compelling comments and decide to settle and let us keep our redirect.

How you can help support Marc: Please try to find the time to do all of these if you can — again, I (we) would truly appreciate it

Marc is going through a really hard time right now, as you can imagine. This situation has put an enormous amount of stress on his shoulders – this is his business and personal life and his financial situation (fighting against associations with much deeper pockets than you is not easy, even when you are right – lawyers are not cheap).

Post a supporting comment:
Show your support for Marc and our cause by posting a supportive comment here at the blogs.

Send Marc a private message or contact form letter:
His new website is located at – if you would like to wish him well and show your support privately (several of our great members already have) then visit and click on the contact link and send him a nice message – I would really appreciate it, because I know he could use it right now.

Send Marc's new website a link:
To say that Marc is worried about his rankings and losing all of the great work that we have done is the understatement of the century. There are no guarantees that SAR will settle, and if they do not there is still the potential that Marc could lose the domain name. If this happens, we are back to square one, and it will take years to develop the kind of authority that we have already earned. Any place you can spare a link from domains you control to assist Marc's new domain will be truly appreciated. (Linking from any blog posts you write would be a great place to start.) It won't change the fact that we have to do it all over again, but it will help us recover more quickly – so thank you in advance.


Enjoy this post? Why not share with friends or add a comment of your own?


Sorry to hear about Marc's site and I hope it doesn't happen to mine! My site generates way less visitors, perhaps 100 per day but it keeps food on the table.

Credit to Morgan for alerting me about the issue. I've converted my other site to REW so that I'll be prepared should this ever happen in Honolulu. There have been a bunch of copy cats - my site is and it generally ranks in the top 3 (just after the Board's website) on a google search of "Oahu MLS".

At this time there have been no issues with my domain name, obviously the situation could change over time.



Singleing out Marc for their personal persecution for a term they have no legal basis for or a right to is a travesty of justice for a dues paying member. These people have no respect for what Marc had accomplished with his site. Marc is a shining example of someone who has worked diligently for success and they should be proud to have him as a member. It is more than disgraceful for them to do this to Marc and his family.

I'll bet SAR has not heard the end of this.

Dennis Pease

It is disgusting knowing that this harassment was brought on by fellow agents wielding their power as board members and envious power mongers. I don’t see that this really ever was about Marc’s ethics; it was all about greed by other agents and their misuse of power to destroy something he worked so hard for.

Marc has had to spend a great deal of time and money to defend this frivolous attack and he should be allowed to maintain control of the domain for redirect purpose only.

I think it would be fair to say that if the Sarasota MLS board does not agree to this, they will learn a tough lesson in how friends stick together as this goes viral across the net.

This year saw a case of a third party lead generation company that threatened a blogger with a lawsuit and did in fact file suit only to settle after their name was destroyed online. Because that case is settled I won’t mention their name but I think many reading this are not only aware of the case, but participated in the outcome. The Sarasota board and members that were involved could have a hard time ranking for their own names if this becomes the next viral topic taken up by major bloggers and friends online.

It would be naive of them to think it wouldn’t happen as it has happened before. Hopefully they know when enough is enough and they can be satisfied that they cost him a lot of money and he no longer uses that domain for his business.

Spoken Gently

This is truly sad. What happens when the NAR decides to prohibit the use of "luxury," "real estate," or whatever else they deem necessary to ban? The entire saga doesn't surprise me. At one point our site signs had a few minor issues. I was amazed at the pettiness of some real estate agents at this sort of thing.

Wayne Long

I have to agree with Dennis - this is all about GREED and ENVY - not about ethics. We need to all work together to support Marc here as his peers in Sarasota attempt to bring him down.

If it is really about the mls being used in the url then they have already made it so that Marc cannot use it. So.... taking away his ability to redirect past clients and potential clients to his site who have been going there for years could not be anything other than greed, envy, and maliciousness IMO.


If I was the Sarasota MLS Board I would be very concerned about what is going to show up in future searches for Sarasota MLS. It is really amazing that these guys have stooped so low when every REALTOR in the country received REALTOR Magazine with a feature article by "Mr. Internet" stating that REALTORS should consider domain names that included their "city name" plus "MLS". That's right, the National Association of REALTORS official publication sent to all of it's membership and recommended for agents at large to do exactly as Marc Rasmussen did in naming his domain. How's that for playing by the book in a good faith and ethical manner? What really stinks is that Marc Rasmussen invested many thousands of dollars and thousands of hours (and those thousands of hours should be equated to dollars too) to do exactly as recommended by his trade association, the NAR and when his local association had hearings and refused to find he had done anything unethical, the Sarasota MLS Board went to ICANN and ripped him of all his effort, time, and investment by the simple taking of a URL. I find the actions horrific and wonder how the NAR, Florida Association of REALTORS, or Sarasota Association of REALTORS can continue to associate itself with the Sarasota MLS Board. For those members of NAR who do not understand, the value of a site is contained within the URL - take the URL away and the same site content will not have the same authority as it had with an authority URL. Knowledge of how URL value is created and where it lies is crucial to understanding the very real loss that Marc Rasmussen has suffered from the takings of the Sarasota MLS Board, all the while he was following the guidelines set out by REALTOR magazine's Mr. Internet, and acting in good faith in regards to the National Association of Realtors, the Florida Association of Realtors, and presumably the Sarasota Association of Realtors. Isn't it time for every one of the members of these organizations to let the Sarasota MLS Board know just how despicable the actions of the SAR Board have been? What happened to the ethics of these folks that went to ICANN and ripped Marc Rasmussen of all of his "good faith" time, effort, and investment. Search Sarasota MLS - !


After reviewing my search "Sarasota MLS" in Google, I see that an entity with the URL is identified within Google's description as "The MLS System". Isn't that sort of misleading to the public? Is it really "The MLS System" or is it really "A MLS System". Just goes to show you that this whole MLS issue within the NAR is a big witch hunt to call successful persons unethical and beat them down in hopes that the complainers can step up and take the others down.

I really wish that SAR's Google entry did not say "The MLS System" I find that to be in bad faith and suggest they edit their site and adjust the language structure that may be causing that result in the search engines. It could very easily give the public at larrge the impression that it was the "only" MLS system and that would be unethical. Better yet, they should put a "No Follow" on the whole site so that the public can't be mislead on anything in regards to the site or by the operators of the site.


Hi Marc, hang in there. We have sent you our Sarasota leads and will continue to do so. We have several clients looking at the Tampa / Sarasota areas and will make you their point of contact for Sarasota. We've already started forwarding them your site so they can research what's available in Sarasota.


I like Mr. Pease's comment, above:

"The Sarasota board and members that were involved could have a hard time ranking for their own names if this becomes the next viral topic taken up by major bloggers and friends online."


I think the fact that one of the panelists (Ms./Mrs. Cabell) provided such a convincing contradiction of the finding, as well as the fact that the ethics ruling was unsuccessful in establishing bad motives on Marc's part, makes SAR's decision pretty hard to swallow.

Carolyn Gjerde-Tu

This is so unfair especially in light of the NAR trade publication that recommended using MLS in the URL. I really wonder how long it will take before Luxury Real Estate is a protected term in Sarasota. Marc we know over time that will be the premier site for Real Estate in Sarasota. The Sarasota MLS is just a name but it is shameful that there seems to be a lack of understanding or even caring about the expense and the hours that have been lost.

Morgan Carey

Thank you so much for your supporting comments thus far everyone, you guys are awesome!

I have just emailed my first list in my SOI (the community) a link to this post - (Around 16,000 community members) - so you should be receiving an email shortly.

Please feel free to use any verbiage of that short mail for those of you willing / intending to send letters / emails to your peers helping us shed light on this situation.

Thanks again, you guys are truly awesome!

Justin Bowers

Hmm. I've known for a long time that using the term "MLS" in a domain is not a legal thing to do in real estate. Therefore, I can understand how it could be ruled the name of the site be changed. However, it sounds like the ruling regarding the transfer of ownership is EXTREMELY unfair and downright unethical!!!


is it possible to add contact info and email addresses for SAR and ICANN?

Mike Brown


Marc purchased this domain name over five years ago when real estate and the internet were still in its infancy. At that time we were all using REALTOR and MLS in our domain names. Times change and rules change. Some things should be grandfathered or paid for rather than stolen and outlawed. Call me crazy but I like airplanes and one of my favorite airfields was a grass strip a few miles from my house. I flew out of it for years with no problems but two years ago the area became developed, new housing projects popped up on all sides of my little grass runway. The new residents had the gull to complain about noise and safety when they were the ones who moved there knowing the runway was there. Long story short the homeowners shut down the little airstrip and now I have to drive 45 minutes to go flying. Same thing happened to Marc.

Marc, let me know if there is anything I can do to help out!


Morgan Carey

I will find you guys a suitable NAR contact, in the meantime for SAR (Sarasota Association of Realtors)

Sarasota Association of REALTORS®
3590 S. Tuttle Avenue
Sarasota, FL 34239
(941) 923-0191 (fax)


I know Marc has been fighting this for a while. My own MLS (formerly MLSNI, now MRED), has forced me to change my link anchor text to remove MLS on my main website, so I can imagine that if I had kept an MLS domain I purchased before this change I would be in the same boat as Marc. What a great way to treat your paying members, huh?

Yet type in and you'll find a site not owned by NAR or any local mls board. They can do it, but not us!

Justin Bowers

Hey MB.

I'm not saying the actions that were taken were justified. In fact, I'm agreeing with everybody here that they completely unjustified. I'm just saying, the "MLS" has a right to request the name be taken down. Not taken down, then confiscated.

As an agent with company A, it's kind of a nobrainer that I shouldn't go out there and get the domain for company B. Now, I understand very much how someone would register a domain with "MLS" in without doing so intentionally.

I would have snatched up the same domain myself.

All I'm saying is I can understand why it should be taken down and that's really too bad that the guy has to start over.

It's the comfiscation of the domain that's wrong (period).

What about Marc's clients? The last time I checked, we as REALTORS have a fiduciary duty to our clients to only act in their best interest. How then can the Sarasota Board of REALTORS possibly defend this petty act against one of its own as being in the best interest of Marc's clients? Not only can they not justify it, I would posit that the Board has in fact acted with malicious intent against Marc's clients by shutting off buyer leads that could've led to their property being sold faster. I hope Marc and his clients sue the Sarasota Board of REALTORS for directly interfering with his ability to serve his clients' best interests as his fiduciary duty requires him to do.

Jennifer Mackay

Marcs site was THE reason we selected REW as our developers of choice. If it not for Marcs orginal site who knows where I and my team would be.

Marc, if there is anything I can do to help please don't hesitate.

Btw, my webmaster is furious and is in the process of writing a few articles and blog posts on this topic very soon.

Morgan, can my writers quote and reference this blog post in their articles as well as link to Marc's new site?

Justin Havre

Keep you head up Marc!!!!

Truly a sad story to hear of someone that has put so much time, effort and money into their business. If anything they should have let him keep the domain as NAR made their rule change way after he bought the domain name.

700 unique visitors a day in a market with only 55,000 residents is quite the accomplishment. Good work Marc & Morgan!


The story seems ironically absurd (and sad) for the first part....

Putting in a policy, that no member can use the term MLS - makes it so ONLY NON-MEMBERS ONLY can use the term.

How is it protecting the public, or anyone else to make it so only NON-MEMBERS are allowed to use MLS as part of their domain?!??!

And the story goes from absurd & sad to downright unbelieveable when it hits the ICANN part of it. A group that has recommended the use of the term MLS in their national publication for its members previously, - so a member uses it - and then the group changes its mind years later, files an ethics charge against him and gets awarded the domain by ICANN to boot??

Its like The Twilight Zone.

Crazy, and most unfortunate.

Morgan Carey

Jennifer please feel free to reference any materials I publish regarding this incident, in fact you are encouraged to do so - same goes with linking to Marc's new site to show your support.

The Koitz Group

I don't know where to start on this one...but I guess most of it has been said. Marc, you know Gretchen, Pen, and I stand. We're here and plan to support you from a grassroots level (Gretchen's on it!), to letter writing, to links, to whatever else we can do. We're here, and we stand ready. Your friends...Kevin, Gretchen, & Pen

Marc Rasmussen

I really appreciate everyone's support on this. Thanks Morgan for getting the troops fired up. I am just working hard on my new site. I do still rank well because of the redirect of to If the domain name gets taken away and I lose the redirect I will lose the rankings on my current site.

With the hundreds of thousands of visitors to my website over the last 5 years the Sarasota Association of Realtors cannot produce one person, one phone call or one email stating that they feel misled.

I've had probably a half a dozen phone calls over the last couple years from Realtor friends who said that there client bought a property through them but found it on my website. I'm sure there are a bunch more that I don't know about. My website helps sell property, whether I represent the client or not. Isn't that what the Assocation wants us to do? Sell property in an ethical manner? I've never received one complaint since owning the website from a visitor who felt misled. This witchhunt is complete bullcrap.

Our real estate market is probably in the largest decline that we have seen in 80 years, there is a global financial crisis, 100 year old banks are collapsing on a daily basis and they want to direct their efforts to shutting me down. It really is a shame. It is kind of like Ford being on trial for something with GM, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota as the jury.

Again, I appreciate everyone's links, blog posts, emails about this. I am proud to be a part of this community.


What irony, read this -

Perhaps you should contact the writer and find the source of the information that caused her to write "Sarasota MLS no longer exists". I am sure she was provided with info from the Sarasota MLS that led her to believe exactly what she wrote. Marc, did you get similar information at some point. If it doesn't exist, what's their gripe and who pushed the issue at SAR?


Sorry about that, here is a hot one -


Here is a quick indexing page - .

Marc, why not have your lawyer amend the plaintiff name to Marc Rasmussen dba ? Sounds like a good backlink to me!

John Allen

I am a member of the Sarasota Board and my REW website,, and Marc's websites are technically competitors. That does not change the fact that I think the SAR Board was wrong to go after his domain. He registered and has been using the domain for over 5 years. Why go after him now?

I did a quick search and Google and found several other Sarasota sites with MLS in their domain. If they are going to have a rule that members can not have MLS in their domain, why have they not gone after other sites that do the same thing? I guess because they are not at the top of the rankings. That just does not seem fair.

Bob Wilson


I was seething when I heard they went to ICANN. I'll make sure you get some decent few links.

Jay Thompson

Boy does this chap my ass.

Is the Sarasota MLS going get Major League Soccer (MLS) shut down?

How about the NASA/Jet Propulsion/Cal Tech Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) site? ( Heck they say right on teh home page "(MLS) Web Site" and even reference {gasp!} "MLS data".

How utterly ridiculous.

Blog posts will be forthcoming.


"Putting in a policy, that no member can use the term MLS - makes it so ONLY NON-MEMBERS ONLY can use the term.

How is it protecting the public, or anyone else to make it so only NON-MEMBERS are allowed to use MLS as part of their domain?!??!"

That statement sums it all up right there. On top of that, you pay for these people to waste the money going after something so frivolous that has Never Generated a Complaint from the Consumer?

(For the record -- that's a much nicer site then any Association's site I've ever seen.)


@Jay - thanks for entering the fray! Your blogging efforts will be greatly appreciated. I don't know of many with a louder megaphone than you and I am still wondering how you do it.


Stop by this blog post and leave a comment if you get a chance -

Spoken Gently

I blogged about this on ActiveRain today:

Perhaps a few comments might help the cause. I've recently started getting more active over there but kinda stumbling through things, so I "think" comments work! Anyway, the blog entry cites some of what has been discussed here. Cal, I cited your blog as a resource!



Sorry to hear they strongarmed you like that. It is sad people don't want to work as hard as others so they legislate their way to an more even playing field.

You'll be back to #1 on Google and then they'll look for another reason to try and stop you.

I put a post on my blog to Morgan's Post and a link to Sarasota Real Estate.

Good Luck in getting back to #1


Sing the SAR Pokie along with your fellow REALTORS! -

Spoken Gently

Too funny Cal! :)


I have commented on Joe's AR post and made my own here:

If you have a chance, please make some comments. Also remember that we can flag posts to be featured. I don't care if mine is featured or someone else's, but at least one of the several AR posts should be flagged to be a featured post. Read through a couple and try to feature your favorite one.


Carolyn Gjerde-Tu

Like the new button on the REW forums, SARjacking. I commented on Joe's AR post and flagged it for a feature, hasn't done any good yet. I'm going back to read Judy's now.

Spoken Gently

I'll head over to yours Judy. I've yet to comment on my own entry. I woke up this morning besides myself with a couple of ActiveRain folk's views on this. According to a few comments, Marc, "ya made enough money, so get over it," or, "you should have been handing out post cards door to door, like the rest of us..." Gees, Colleen is the number 1 agent in her office last quarter, and probably the same this quarter and "we've haven't made enough money," and we've never sent out any print advertising of any kind (probably should, but we haven't). Thanks for the rest of yall's comments.

Morgan Carey

Hey guys just finished the No SARjacking badges - you can get yours at

Please encourage everyone and anyone who is looking to show their support to come get theirs and post it to their websites, blogs, emails whatever :)


Hey guys, post it in your global headers or footers if you have them and get it on every page!


Joe, did you notice that the one commenter who said those nasty things does not have a link to his/her identity? Sounds like one of Marc's competitor's.

Spoken Gently

I wondered about that Judy. I'm preparing a rebuttal to him, and one or two others. If he gets to crazy, I'll start deleting his comments. BTW, my entry is featured here:
Never been featured before!


Yeah, Joe, it worked (I voted for you, too). Congrats! I wouldn't worry about SAR Donicus (or whatever). There's enough other's who have chewed him out in their comments and I've noticed he hasn't appeared since last night. Maybe he's out door knocking!


Hey Joe,

How about a squid with a Plexo for all the different support blogs and a copy and paste of the SARjacking ribbon code?

Spoken Gently

Time permitting, I'll consider that Cal. Sounds like a good idea. ;)

Gary Ashton

I wonder if anyone or Marc had considered creating a site where interested realtors could donate towards Marc's extensive legal costs? Even if we all contribute $100 it would go a long way to easing the burden for Marc in actually having to deal with the financial stress caused by this legal wrangling through no fault of his own.

I don't know the legalities of setting up a fund like this but I believe any contribution would help even if Marc is not asking for it.

Gary Ashton


I am the CEO of the Sarasota Association of Realtors. I’ve been observing the posts on various blogs over the last several days and would like to share some facts that have been missing, as various posts have offered supporting comments to Marc.

First, to address the trademark issue. While it is true that the term MLS may not be trademarked by itself, it is entirely possible to obtain trademark rights over that term in conjunction with a geographic location. The Sarasota Association of Realtors (SAR) has registered “Sarasota MLS” in the state of Florida, but even before registration, had common law trademark rights because of our usage of the term over the past 50+ years. We are not the only association of Realtors to do so. SAR has determined that it is in the best interest of the association and its membership to protect that mark. The Sarasota public clearly recognizes Sarasota MLS in association with SAR as shown in the dozens of local newspaper articles we provided to the arbitration panel, along with many other exhibits showings its use in our newsletters, websites, and user manuals.
Besides, the point is not the use of the term “MLS” in the domain name. It is the use of MLS in conjunction with the geographic location that is the issue. That, and the fact that the domain name Marc has been using implies that it is “the” Sarasota MLS. It is clearly misleading to have a site with domain name “” when Mr. Rasmussen is not the Sarasota MLS. Search engines give greater weight to sites that have domain names matching the terms of the search.
Which leads me to the comments that the association has no authority over non-members. Even though SAR has no jurisdiction over non-members, we can (and will) pursue anyone who we feel is infringing on our trademark rights, whether they are members or not. ICANN (International Corporation of the Assignment of Names & Numbers) controls domain names, and registration of a domain includes an agreement to submit disputes over domain names to the ICANN arbitration process. Even non-members of SAR are subject to those arbitration provisions.
There has been mention of the article published by NAR in 2002. Michael J. Russer was the author of the column in 2002, in which his Tip of the Month promoted the purchase of domain names to help generate additional business, such as “”. The article was not written by NAR. In fact, there is a disclaimer on the magazine which states: “Views and advertising expressed in REALTOR® Magazine Online and REALTOR® Magazine are not necessarily endorsed by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. The information contained here should not be construed as a recommendation for any course of action regarding financial, legal, or accounting matters by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, REALTOR® Magazine Online, REALTOR® Magazine, or its authors.”
Some believe that SAR should not be pursuing this against one of its own members. But it is, in fact, in the best interest of the membership of SAR and of the public that SAR protect its rights in the trademark. The neutral arbitration panel made its decision based on notebooks of evidence provided by both parties and applying the applicable law.

Morgan Carey

First off, thank you for coming to my blog and posting - your acknowledgement and participation in the issue is appreciated, and will hopefully lead to a resolution.

#1: When did you apply for the trademark for "Sarasota MLS"

#2: When was it granted?

#3: How many other domain names (member or non member) have to taken to ICANN? How many have you successfully had surrendered into the possession of SAR?

#4: "IF" Marc was willing to agree that he would never place another hosted website on the domain name, would you allow him to maintain the redirect so that he could conserve all that we have worked to develop (which have nothing to do with the words in the domain name itself)

I will definitely have more questions but the answers to these questions would be a good start.

Once again, thank you for your response thus far.



A duplicate entry from SAR CEO is here -,

I responded in a positive manner also, asking that his board consider allowing Marc to keep the redirect and put an end to this. I hope you and others will go read my response in that I believe that if this is the SAR CEO it would be beneficial to the entire REALTOR organization to come to a positive win win conclusion.

Spoken Gently

I responded as well. The anonymity bothers me. It wasn't until I responded to "SAR CEO" and quoted the complaint, that I realized how harsh the complaint is towards Marc. In fact, the complaint focuses on deception and motive, rather than the use of "MLS" in the domain name. If that were the case, then keeping the domain name and redirecting Marc's efforts would solve the issue.

Spoken Gently

Uh, the blog entry is not featured on ActiveRain's home page!

Morgan Carey

Just so our readers know who we are dealing with: SAR CEO (based on the email provided and what is listed on the SAR website is) this comment was submitted by Kathy Roberts, 941-328-1170 - please confirm that this is in fact who I am replying to.

I feel the need to correct something you appear to be stating as fact.

You stated: "Search engines give greater weight to sites that have domain names matching the terms of the search." I have to assume that you were present when I presented my portion of defense at the ethics hearing. I was in fact the "expert witness" that was brought in to educate you on matters such as these, and the statement you have just made is completely false.

One need only to look at a Google search for "Sarasota MLS" now (You will find Marc's new website in the #1 position) and you will realize (just like I told you) that there is in fact no unfair advantage being acheived by virtue of Marc's use of the domain or keywords incldued therein, the rankings we acheived for the term are by virtue of our hard work in search engine optimization, website architecture and authority building.

I informed the participants of the ethics hearing of these facts, and it was one factor that lead to Marc NOT being found to be guilty of any ethics violation. (my opinion) - So "if" you did in fact use this arguement in your ICANN hearing, you were in fact providing misinformation in your arguements that should not have been admissable or considered in the ruling. In fact it would been "unethical" for you to do so given the fact that you had already been informed that this in fact was not the case.

You have also stated "even before registration, had common law trademark rights because of our usage of the term over the past 50+ years." again, it appears as if you are stating this as fact. I would hope you have in fact established this as "fact" which could not be determined by ICANN but rather only in a court of law. Something tells me though, that you can't back this up - this is best emphasized in the dissent of Diane Cabell of ICANN where she states

"This Panelist is not convinced that Complainant established common law trademark rights prior to the registration of the domain. None of Complainant’s historical exhibits showed a specific intention of using the term in a trademark sense; the term was used interchangeably as both a noun and adjective and never included any trademark symbol. Symbols are not, of course, required, however Complainant had faithfully applied the symbol to its Sarasota Association of Realtors trademarks where they appeared in the same Exhibits. My conclusion from the Exhibits is that Complainant used the term as the descriptive name of its database and gave no thought to any trademark status until Respondent and other realtors began using MLS in domain names. I find insufficient evidence of trademark rights."

So again I ask you (with a further emphasis on legal definition) - when was it that you were granted the "legal" trademark to the phrase "Sarasota MLS" if in fact you have it at all.

Morgan Carey

An even more compelling argument would be to do a Google search for Fort Lauderdale MLS - you will not find a single domain name in the top 10 rankings that contains a reference to MLS in their domain. I hate to say "I told you so" but I did (This is for NAR and anyone else who didn't listen to me) My post nearly a year ago which you can find here makes an even more compelling argument. Here's the gist of it - NAR / the Boards did not practice responsible due dilligence when deciding that "area MLS" was a term that people typed in when they were in fact looking for association websites (which is the basis for the ruling, they state it is unethical to try to "trick" the public into thinking you are a Realtor board) - The counter argument (my arguement) was that they are wrong about what the public "expects" to find when putting together the search string "area MLS" - I beleive that what they "expect" to find is active properties for sale, in which case a Realtor's website with "active" properties for sale would not only be the most logical result, it would be a disservice to the public to force them to wade through non Realtor websites (aimed at capturing leads and reselling them to Realtors) vs allowing them direct access to the listings they sought after.

Thank you for the vote of confidence with your reference to me as an "expert" - however, any expertise I with regards to user expectations and search behavior pales in comparison to that little company known as "Google" - There is no court of law, no MLS board, no tribunal in the world that is more qualified (or has invested more in technology and research) than Google when it comes to determining exactly what it is that "the public" (the overwealming majority) beleives a term to mean.

So by passing this rule, they are not doing a service to the public as they claim, they are in fact attempting to monopolize on a phrase that they have rightful claim to. What makes it such a farce is the fact that, due to absolutely no legal basis for their crusade, they are only able to effect those whose business then can effect through membership or association. So the public suffers, and their members suffer while non members are free and clear to take advantage of the spoils of ignorance.


700 visitors a day and no complaints from consumers thinking they were actually on The Sarasota MLS that can be brought forward?

I think Marc's site is the perfect example that this whole new chapter of REALTORS not being able to use "MLS" in a domain name is asinine.

Spoken Gently

Ya have to wonder why they picked Marc:

Morgan Carey

You know what is (probably unintentionally) hillarious about your screenshot Joe? Take a look at #2 - it is - Do you know who that is? That's a technology provider responsible for housing and support SAR's technology / listings back office.

And if you look real close, you will see in the title (the most prominant thing in the search results) that they clearly refer to themselves as "THE MLS"

But wait a second - didn't Kathy state very clearly that one of SAR's main points of issue with Marc's domain was that he was claiming to be "The Sarasota MLS" when clearly he wasn't?

Let me find the quote

"the fact that the domain name Marc has been using implies that it is “the” Sarasota MLS. It is clearly misleading to have a site with domain name “” when Mr. Rasmussen is not the Sarasota MLS."

And now let me replace a few words (My changes in bold)

the fact that the title the Sarasota Association of Realtors has been using implies that it is “the” MLS. It is clearly misleading to have a site with title “THE MLS” when the Sarasota Association of Realtors is not "the" MLS.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you.... hypocrisy

Jay Thompson

Kathy Roberts, aka "SAR CEO", states this in her comment:

"Search engines give greater weight to sites that have domain names matching the terms of the search."

Ms. Roberts, how then do explain why and dominate search engines for dozens of location specific home search based search terms? What exactly is a "Zillow" or a "Trulia"??

If, as you state, it is so imperative to protect your "trademark" why have you failed to secure domain names like "" or ""?

If you feel that the general public is mislead into believing that they are actually visiting the Sarasota MLS site when they visit a real estate agent's site, then you aren't giving John Q. Publoc very much credit. In fact, you're all but saying the general public has an IQ of 47.

Hypocrisy? You betcha. You want to know what I find the ultimate in hypocrisy? You pull out an incerdibly lame defense of a disclaimer in Realtor Magazine regarding "Mr. Internet" *telling* people to use "" as a domain name. Yet you give zero credence to the fact the Marc *also* has a disclaimer on his site that it's not the Sarasota MLS.

You've got to be kidding me.


I have to laugh about the REALTOR Magazine Article disclaimer being used as a defense...

Considering it exists because we REALTORS pay for it's existance in the form of National Dues, are you telling me that the content of that publication cannot be relied upon as a beneficial source of information for REALTORS?

Jay Thompson

"“I want to use my year as president to encourage
our members to be more cooperative, and more
professional in our dealings with one another. We
all have the same inventory of properties to sell,
and it’s more important than ever in the current
market that we all work together and maintain
our professionalism.”

Who said this?

The Sarasota Association of Realtors 2008 President Helen Sosso in the January 2008 edition of Sarasota Realtor Magazine


Of course, since there is a disclaimer in the magazine simlar to the one in Realtor Magazine, I guess her words are meaningless too...



Would you like for your staff to compile a nice keyword rich list of SAR officers and directors to append to some of these blogs? When you get down to it, it is these individuals not the faceless entity that are driving this issue. Might as well help them show up in some more search results since that could be the only motive they have. Since they all seem to want top billing in the search engines let's give them some results of their own.


Sarasota Association of REALTORS Officers -

Sarasota Association of REALTORS Board of Directors -


They aren't as concerned as they say they are about protecting their mark - as Jay pointed out.

To me, they want to absorb the rank, hard work and money spent by their members becasue they can't compete. Sick.

SAR CEO made an ignorant claim about search engines giving weight to domains with keywords. This self-proclaimed expert failed in so many ways to protect their mark and name. If they were so concerned, they would secure the many available domains with those terms while defeating his assertion that Marc was trying to mislead the public.

"" is available....

This board tried to annihilate Marc's livlihood, all while their names a public knowlege...

Mike Askins

Morgan, Marc,

Although I am still very knew to REW and all that it offers, it would not be right for me to keep quiet concerning the struggles of Marc Rasmussen. Marc Rasmussen's Sarasota website is EXACTLY how I found REW. I remember looking at Marc's site back in February and saying wow! My wife Jenee said from that moment on that no one on the planet had a better all around Realtor web solution than REW. I mean we could have gone with anyone and pretty much had a wide budget window, but after a lengthy consideration process we decided to partner with REW in a big way in July 08. We will have one of the first LEC V 2.0 sites in a few months and this is just the beginning.
So I am putting link backs to your new website on 3 of my current webs because I agree you earned the top SEO spots by simply out working your competition and the public in the end was the beneficiary of a truly remar(c)able website! I am shocked that the Sarasota board would go to the lengths they took to put your website out of business. In the end when the consumer has lost an important resource it seems that he whole purpose of arraying a large national professional association, i.e., for the public good, is somehow replaced with protecting the status quo of the associations. How unfortunate.
Hang in there Marc, you have an excellent organization in REW behind you.

Spoken Gently

If anyone cares to contribute, Knox set up a Marc Rasmussen Legal Fund Donation button:

Wayne Long

It is good to have friends like Knox. :)


Stuff like this makes me sick. By the way things are looking form all the negative press and the efforts of Morgan to make people aware of what they have done this is really backfiring for the Sarasota MLS. They will get what they deserve. Keep up the hard work Marc pretty sad when you have to fight against your own organazation.


Interesting that the President of the Sarasota Association of REALTORS is the owner of a competing real estate brokerage.


Oops I meant to say SAR and not Sarasota MLS

Marc Rasmussen

Latest Developments

Somehow SAR got control of and they are redirecting to their website. My attorney is checking in with Network Solutions to find out what happened. The latest email we received from Network Solutions stated that the domain name would remain locked until the pending litigation was over.

Notice how quickly they redirected the domain name to their website.

I will keep everyone up to date as things progress.


Wow. It seems the obvious intentions of the Sarasota Association of REALTORS are already showing. If rankings and traffic had nothing to do with this, then why would you just not park the page until the litigation was settled instead of opening yourself up to more attacks?

For some reason, this latest news gives me a bad taste of the "you exist because of us" mentality.


Everyone, make sure you don't have any links pointing to The redirect to SAR is showing here.

Spoken Gently

I have to say, this is truly bothering me. With the redirect in place, the full impact of this is hitting home with me. I know how much time I've put into my website and I've only been doing this for a couple years. Marc, on the other hand, has been doing this for quite bit longer. And, Marc is ranking (was, and hopefully will be) in a much more competitive market.

This is truly unbelievable that SAR can stop the use of the domain, AND take it and the work that has gone into it. :(

Dennis Pease

I agree with you Joe. It actually makes me a little ashamed to be associated with NAR. They should be all over this. I would really hate to be part of SAR. Their good honest members should be in an uproar over this. We need a mailng list of all SAR members, I'll bet most of those members are not aware of what kind of lowlifes are running their board.

I'm linking to Marc from everywhere I can including my home page.

Spoken Gently

Marc, You mentioned Network Solutions was supposed to hold the domain until litigation had ended. Network Solutions are idiots. I meant to blog about this a while back, but got side-tracked. Network Solutions allowed my domain to be taken over by a fax transmission a few months ago! The culprit was on the verge of completing the last step, acquiring my password to make the nameserver change, but by chance I inquired about something unrelated and found all this out. I've since changed all my information and made things private, but we need to remember that at times, our sites are in the hands of some clerk perhaps in some foreign soil making decisions on our behalf.

Maybe it's a clerk at the totem pole's bottom that made the decision to release the domain to SAR prematurely?

Marc Rasmussen

I can only imagine it is something like that. Hopefully, my attorney will get to the bottom of it tomorrow. The last correspondence we received from their legal department stated that the domain name will remain locked until litigation is over. Hopefully, this is just a mistake on their end and they will transfer the domain name back to me.


Too bad they didn't redirect it to Knox's link below:



I was hoping not to add the officers and directors names if it wasn't necessary. Since they took the domain yesterday and redirected to the SAR site, I decided to append them to this post this morning - . I was hoping that it would not be necessary.

In my opinion their counsel is probably giving them adise like in an adverse possesion situation:

Adverse possession is based on the doctrine of laches, which states that "neglect to assert a right or claim that, together with lapse of time and other circumstances, prejudices an adverse party. Neglecting to do what should or could, have been done to assert a claim or right for an unreasonable and unjustified time causing disadvantage to another[1]."

Plainly stated, this means the law does not reward a person who neglects to enforce his property rights by allowing him to claim the fruit of another person's labor at a later time. Failure of a landowner to exercise and defend his property rights for a certain length of time may result in the permanent loss of the landowner's interest in the property.

Quoted from -

None the less the action has done no good for their online reputation nor for REALTOR good will.

I hope the situation arises where I get to remove the names. And remember, some of these persons probably supported Marc in his situation, we just don't know who. It was a closed door hearing wasn't it! Too bad Marc can't disclose any allies or supportive persons on the board. Unfortunately, most of those folks are probably very nice persons, trying to do the right thing, and getting staggering pressures from sources that caused them to make decisions they probably regret.


Board members should feel free to leave comments on the post!

Missy Caulk

I didn't read through all the comments here but are you all aware Marc's domain, TheSarasotaMLS is now pointing to SAR.


REW Nick

This post is on the first page (for me at least) for Sarasota Association of Realtors... Check it out!

Carolyn Gjerde-Tu

Five of the top ten (for me) are negative press with more posts likely to rank on the first page over time. I hope the Sarasota Association of REALTORS pays special attention to Eric Blackwell's reputation management offer.


Check this out -

Morgan Carey

Quick correction - the proper URL to that post is - you linked to the comments section - I think everyone should update their links to include that one, it's a doozie - hypocricy readily apparent yet?

Sar - I will be accepting your written appology and the transfer of back to it's rightful owner whenever you are aready (and pull your heads out of your asses)


One more time boys and girls - I posted a broken one - and Morgan and Dena's was broken too -

Here it is, John Allens post Should I take the Sarasota Association of Realtors to ICANN? - vs. -

Morgan Carey

That works!!! Thank's - Question for John - where is your SARJAcking badge?


Marc still has a lot of back links pointing to the domain, including a link from one of his other sites. Is he going to start getting rid of those links or is he keeping them in the hopes that he'll get the domain back? I hate to see SAR getting all that link juice now.

Nicole Boynton

What an amazing group of professionals you are, banding together to help Marc. I hope that Marc's lawyer gets to the bottom of why his previous domain is not frozen and is allowing the redirect. I hope that Marc is able to retain the rights and redirect to his new site at I appreciate you all bringing attention to this story as a cautionary tale to the rest of us in the industry and students of SEO.

We wish you all the best, Marc and hope things go your way.

Carolyn Gjerde-Tu


I flagged your post for a feature at active rain. It would be good to get more featured posts there as it brings in other agents.

Spoken Gently

Excellent Carolyn,- I was just at Vicki's and flagged it too. My "TheSarasotaMLS is History" AR blog was featured, but then is disappeared after a couple hours. So, I'm wondering if AR is taking a hands off approach to this. Plus, if I may vent for a bit, it's very difficult to get featured. It seems most of the spots are the same folks day after day. However, if enough people are flagging SAR posts, the likelihood of a featured spot opening up increases.

Dennis Pease

I wrote a little about this as well, but I get angry when I start writing about it. So I have my own way to expess my feelings about SAR.


@jseville Sorry I wrecjed your example earlier, I have hotlinking disabled, switched it for the time being.

Wow- I took the day off and came back - lots of discussion!

Carolyn Gjerde-Tu

Joe, the featured posts run on the front page in order that they are featured. The newer features bump down the older ones. It seemed like they chose quite a few posts to feature that day. Since it wasn't up as long as other posts I sometimes see featured, it would be good to get more agent awareness over there.

Spoken Gently

Perhaps is we all bump or flag Vicki's (or Judy's, or both) post, it'll get featured. ;)


My Take on all of this and how it ties into a featured post I did long ago back in March of 2007..... Sorry it took so long but I've been extremely Busy....


Be sure to read SVRPaul's post above - a really good one!


Nick is working on a video for this post -

Should be this weekend before we get it up.

Spoken Gently


All I received was a blank page when visiting the link you posted.


Excellent post. The best I've seen thus far. Flagged for feature! ;)


Thanks Joe,

Here is the link again -


I flagged it too - Paul made a great post - I hope it gets faetured.

By the way there has been some confusion as to how to tag an entry on AR to suggest as a feature article. Click on the red flag at the bottom of the post and it will be self explanatory from there.


Gracias guys and thank you so much for the kind compliments,

In 48 hours I announce my campaign if we do not hear from the National Association of REALTORS and their stance on this topic.

I am opening up the Rolodex and making phone calls to shake this all up.

I am sincerely tired of the lack of leadership that has been displayed in the past year to move this country (and real estate) forward. It's time to turn the National Association or REALTORS into a Professional Association and not a "Sales" Association.

We specialize in Short sales in Las Vegas and it makes me sick that the lack of leadership is making hard working families that I talk to every single day confused on what is going on.

These people want leadership.... They Want Solutions... They Want Help.

Most of them don't even know how we got here in the first place until I explain it to them and then they feel betrayed by our very own association who told them that real estate was always a good investment with $40 Million dollar ad campaigns with our money.

The lack of leadership and what it has to do with Marc is an indication that something needs to be done to change the perception of what is taking place on Michigan Avenue.

Why are Real Estate Agents considered the same caliber as Car Salesmen? Because we let it get that way and the fact that the National Association of REALTORS can't take the time to comment on the rape of Marc's soul by the Sarasota Association of REALTORS is just an indication that these people are completely out of touch with you and me.

I hate to be harsh but it's just reality IMO....


Paul, that was a great post and I hope it gets Featured. I flagged it and hope anyone else that hasn't done so yet flags it to be Featured.


I Hate Pirates

Spoken Gently

Too funny Knox. Given what gets featured on ActiveRain these days (a request for a Seth Godin book review is featured today), those funny pictures might make the cut! :)


I love it! Sent you an e-mail with a few more pics. LOL


@cal - if they looked like......

Pull over , I want to see your cookies!


"we do not know how long ago the Sarasota Association initiated its request that he cease using the name"


We do know how long ago that NAR through it's REALTOR Magazine suggested using word combinations in domains as Marc did.

I think that you should request that NAR's Legal Action Committee help with contributions to offset Marc's legal expenses. And secondly that the NAR ask that due to it's ignorance in publishing recommendations relied on by Mr. Rasmussen that the SAR (being an entity within the REALTOR organization) back off of it's pursuits and grant Marc the 301 redirects from the domain he registered based on said Realtor Magazine recommendations.

I bet Mr. Internet is absolutely sick over this matter too!

Portland Real Estate

It's really a shame that an association, which is supposed to represent the interest of Realtors, would do something like this; and spending Realtor member's dues to do it too. Now I will admit that I have mixed feelings about the ownership of the MLS acronym, and so I can somewhat understand them asking him to choose a new domain, but the enforcement is not consistent, which means that he is being singled out for his success, and then to try to take the old domain away from him so that they can benefit from the search engine rankings that he built through his own efforts is ridiculous.


SAR and FAR iare hotting the blogs:

Sarasota Association Of Realtors:

Florida Association Of Reltors:

Spoken Gently

Paul's SAR blog entry is now featured on ActiveRain's home page! ;)

The Koitz Group

Just put something up here....I know I have to link out more (and feel free to send me more pages I may not be aware of)...I'll happily add Cal has so wonderfully done.

- Kevin

Marc Rasmussen

John - Their initial letter came in the summer of 2006.

REW Nick

An Update.. this post.. from where I stand is #5 on Google for "Sarasota Association of Realtors."


This guy doesn't quite have the facts right, especially in regards to Marc's ethics hearing. I left a comment but apparently it is still in moderation. I encourage you guys to stop by and a leave a comment of your own -


Anyone know what is happening to the leads that go to the SAR office now? Are they being forwarded to Marc? Are they defaming him to the clients that contact them?

I'd bet they aren't sending them to Marc, that would be the ethical thing to do.

Spoken Gently

I left a comment. I hate when I leave a comment only to find I messed up on a word. I said "not" for "now!" Unfortunately, my Google toolbar spell check doesn't have an idiot option. :(


Here is a Google RSS feed that you guys may want to use -,+Inc.&ie=utf-8&num=10&output=rss#

Carolyn Gjerde-Tu

@jseville Broker's name and address is not required on all pages of the website in California. It is interesting that Brad hasn't responded yet. I don't think he really understands the issue.


It is funny that my comment on his site should have come through and has not. I am not sure, but believe John and Joe probably got there after I left a link here, their comments show and mine doesn't. Oh well!


I don't think Brad likes me, Cal.


@ Knox - I don't think Brad likes you either. Bottom Feeder, Hack, Spitting? Damn!

Them be fighten' words . . . you think you can take him? Anyone with a fake 70's style porno mustache can't be tough. My money is on you!


@loudog - yea, i got abrasive... but HE STARTED IT. monkey.

Everyone have a good weekend:)


I guess a good Knoxing match is in order!


Mr. Internet resume follows.

Of particular interest is the very high profile interaction with NAR and then in 1999 - "(NOTE: I am no longer associated with this program due to philosophical difference with the NAR about the course curriculum)"


1996 — Developed the first full–day seminar about doing business on the Internet approved by the California Department of Real Estate for Continuing Education

1997 — Authored the first Internet-specific policies and procedures manual for real estate brokerages (The Internet Policies & Procedures Toolkit™)


Started the "Ask Mr. Internet" column for REALTOR® Magazine and have been the exclusive Internet columnist ever since

Primary author for an Intel Corporation White Paper on the impact that the Internet would have on the real estate industry (CONNECTED 2001 — The Transformation of the Residential Real Estate Industry)

ARELLO Task Force Leader for the purpose of developing the Internet Best–Practices for Real Estate Licensees from a regulatory perspective

1999 — Architect of NAR's original ePRO Internet Professional Certification (NOTE: I am no longer associated with this program due to philosophical difference with the NAR about the course curriculum)


Named "One of the 25 Most Influential People in real estate" by REALTOR® Magazine

Launched "ePOWER NEWS", the industry's most respected newsletter on doing business online and using Virtual Outsourcing to boost productivity

2001 — Authored ePOWER PRO—Online Success Stratagies for Real Estate Professionals, widely considered to be the "bible" of doing business online for the real estate industry


Co–authored the industry's first book on using Virtual Assistants within the real estate industry (Transform Your Business Using Virtual Assistants—For Real Estate Professionals)

Co-founded REVA Network, the first and largest community of independant Virtual Assistants who specialize in supporting the real estate industry

Key–speaker at the first annual International Virtual Assistants Association ( conference in Las Vegas

2003 — Co-founded REVA Teams, the industry's first full–service real estate specific Virtual Assistant Staffing Service

2004 — Created the industry's first comprehensive teleconference–based training system for REALTORS® about doing business on the Internet and using Virtual Outsourcing (10 Week Telecoaching Program)

2005 — Created the Maximum of Value Assessment (MOVA™) which revolutionized the way REALTOR® websites can engage homeowners thinking of selling. And in the process, generalized the structure and use of assessments as a powerful means of engaging any online target market


Authored "The OBSOLETE EMPLOYEE" — How Businesses Succeed Without Employees — And Love It!", the first general business book on Virtual Outsourcing.

Launched the "" Website, which is the first Virtual Outsourcing resource website ever (non–real estate specific)

Created and launched the Online Dominance Mentoring Program — the industry's first and only comprehensive online video / self–paced mentoring system for REALTORS® about doing business on the internet and using Virtual Outsourcing

Co-Authored "The Real Estate Website Success Guide", which is the industry's first book on REALTOR® Website best practices

Co-Authored "The Real Estate Website Accelerator", which is the industry's first book on proven no–cost ways to drive traffic to REALTOR® websites


Authored the industry White Paper: "Why Real Estate Sale Associates Fail Miserably Online — And What To Do About It".


Why wouldn't a good REALTOR follow the recommendations of Mr. Internet? Why has NAR remained silent in defending REALTORS that followed his advice in the official National Association of REALTORS publication REALTOR Magazine. Why is the Sarasota Association of REALTORS so adamant in not ackowledging that Marc Rasmussen is in fact an ethical REALTOR that followed the rules and later had the tables turned on him?


16 of the top 30 positions held by friends of Marc Rasmussen! Thats 50% plus one. Thanks for that strong new page one entry Jay!

Jay Thompson -- currently redirected to my post, but it's just begging for more....

Dennis Pease

NOTE TO SELF: Don't ever get on the wrong side of Cal. He will relentlessly hunt you down, find out everything you have ever done or might have even thought about doing. ;)


LOL - I attended the Knoxing Academy of self defense.

Brad won't let my comments show - have left them twice. He turned much more of a tiger loose approving Jay than he would have with me. A much louder microphone too. Wouldn't be surprised if Brad didn't open the barn door for a lot more Web 2.0 REALTOR s to learn about this and take a stand.


Can we get our resident grammar guy Gerry in here?

the sarasota mls vs The Sarasota MLS

Is there a difference?

From wikipedia on article useage and definite and indefinite articles:

In general: "the" in English is used for something you have already been talking about. The word "a" is used when introducing a new idea:

  • "The tired woman was looking for her cat. Suddenly she saw the cat up a tree". (We are already talking about the cat. The tree is a new idea).
  • "The tired woman was walking along when she suddenly saw a cat up a tree". (She had not been thinking about cats until then).

So we see that Marc is using proper grammar in the useage of "the" in his domain name (his audience is "already" talking (typing) or thinking about the terms that follow. The terms that follow are Sarasota, a city name that is in the public domain, and MLS a genericized term that buyers of real estate associate with finding real property that is for sale and most likely being offered by a REALTOR.

Now, the biggie - is there a difference in using "the" with lower case letters and "The" with upper case letters?

I must admit my grammar skills are limited, but Gerry as an example is there a difference in saying something like "the Onward store" and "The Onward Store"? The content of the word string is an "article plus a city name plus a generic term", one with an upper case T in "the" and the other with a lower case t in "the".

By the way, off topic, but most all of you will find this story of interest - . Onward is where I used to live and it was the only good example I could think of this morning. By the way this store is the "only" thing in Onward and leaves little opportunity as to whether one is looking for "the" or "The".


@Cal - Brad deleted all comments and closed the post.

Carolyn Gjerde-Tu

Too bad the pingback is still there.

Morgan Carey

Update - great article covering the story (With some insight into what happened with Network Solutions) post in the Herald Tribune.


Good article. Further proof that they were arfter Marc's domain because of its success. The article stated that 3 other Sarasota websites were using "MLS" in the domain, yet they only went after Mark's.



Edit - They went after the 3 other domains but only locked up Marc's.


@ Cal:

I never studied much grammar - and as for the crossing of grammar with law, I am utterly unreliable. I don't want to get in over my head and help to discredit the "Free Marc" camp.

However, I don't think that a grammarian could assist SAR in proving that Marc's "the" was disingenuous. Domain names are necessarily short and therefore are often contracted versions of a longer name....

I think there is (or should be) more flexibility in how language is used in a domain name, because there are so many limitations involved (length, mandatory exclusivity, upper/lower cases, use of spaces, use of symbols, etc).


"Cherry said the association's position is that even if Web users know once they reach Rasmussen's site that it is not actually SAR, or even if it is redirected to his new site, by that point the damage has been done, as the "initial confusion" caused would still hurt SAR's business."

What business is the Sarasota Association of REALTORS in?


Since they retain the leads coming from Marc's work promoting his site, this is a clue in to that they want the real estate business and not supporting their members.

I can search Marc's site for homes, NOT the SAR site. I'm confused now, there's not mls on there!

Miss Sara Sota is donating her ad revenue to this.


I hope you guys don't find this off topic.

But why is REALTOR dot com operated by a publicly traded for profit company instead of by the REALTOR organization?

If most of the REALTOR Associations operate databases with their MLS's and are proficient at feeding data to IDX's through their RETS feeds, why then does the REALTOR organization not operate the REALTOR dot com website itself and provide all of the enhanced features of REALTOR dot com to it's members at no additional cost to their national fees?

Why aren't REALTOR members demanding this?


reminds me of a movie that just came out, "Flash of Genius"

Marc Rasmussen

Hi all,

I wrote a post with a brief timeline of events pertaining to this case -

Nothing earth shattering but I read a few inconsistencies across the web. More importantly, I wanted to thank everyone for all of the support. I've said it before but I really am proud to be associated with a great group of people.

Gulf Coast Associates

Hey Marc,

I've been away for awhile (much needed R & R) as most of this has unfolded. I'm really sorry to see you be forced to have to travel down this road. However, knowing your determination, I'm sure you'll weather the storm and come back better than ever. I've shot some links to you and some of the other super people here who have done such a great job of helping spread the word about this travesty. The SAR should be ashamed of itself. Unfortunately for you and our industry, they are not.

Hang tough and fight the good fight my friend; you’ve got a lot of fine folks behind you.

Matt Barker

Hey Marc,

I wish you the best man!

SAAR - Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game


Seriously? I can't go buy a domain like and think Disney isn't going to sue me and you shouldn't think buying a domain like isn't going to raise some flags. This whole story is stupid and so is marc for even fighting it!


Marc, I think with all the overwhelming support you have received the SAR will have no choice but to allow you redirect your domain name. I am linking to you from my home page and blog. The fight is just beginning.

Hector Lesende

Choice Real Estate®

If you haven't seen it, here's a blog to "unite against the Sarasota MLS Board".


Itsyoursale - If Walt Disney wrote in his employee handbook to buy domains that said , I would think that it would be permissible to do so, whic is the irony here.

Hey guys - here is itsyoursale's blog and website -

Mark Adamczyk, Inc.


Heh, is that blogger referring to Morgan as a kid, or to Marc?

(Pass the popcorn.)

Morgan Carey

Hey, I liked that! Are you trying to say i'm old Gerry? (Reminder, I am and always will be younger than you sucker!)

Matt Barker

Agents in the Minnesota market that have been using the MLS in their domain name/company name are still able to, but the MLS will not allow realtors that are building new sites to do so. Those that had been using it in their name were grandfathered in, but they had to have a disclaimer on their site that said they weren't the MLS itself. Interesting why the Sarasota Association of Realtors could not have taken the same approach.

Maybe Marc put too many agents out of business thus affecting how many can pay board dues to......the Sarasota Association of Realtors


Looks like the guy is also bad mouthing anything he can as well as already being banned on the REW forums..classless..



Marc Rasmussen for the SAR REALTOR of the Year Award.

Visit www (dot) or download the nomination form here --> www (dot)

Achievements include the design of a website and thousands and thousands of hours and dollars in hundreds of new website visitors to the Sarasota Association of REALTORS website.

Might as well also nominate him for the Humanitarian Award -> www (dot)

and the MERITORIOUS SERVICE AWARD --> www (dot)

Has Anybody with the Saratosota Association of REALTORS won all three in one year??


@SVRPaul That would be great, but he'll have to win 2009. The deadline for this was Oct 14 :(


Lawyering 301 redirect -

Choice Real Estate®

I think he's trying the Low Difficulty "Link bait (controversy) pick a fight get some links" to try and build his link portfolio... lol

Choice Real Estate®

to clarify, i'm referring to the guy at
what a TOOL


I thought the "associations" were suppose to help the REALTORS. My company works with 8 MLS's and it seems most of them fight there agents on most issues. They become a business that profits off the hard work that the REALTORS put in. They must be following the government model. It sounds like Marc is a winner and I know that winners win and it’s probably hard to see now but he will be better for going through this garbage. Another example of MLS abusing their power in one that we operate in they changed their IDX policy so and agent can only use 2 options for IDX. It is sweeping the nation.

Don Mann

I live in BC where there are rules against even using MLS in the header area Tag's etc. Having said that I want to support Marc in his battle because this seems to be a specific attack on one or more well optimized Realtors rather than a simple enforcement of new rules. If the Sarasota MLS system wishes to create any resemblance of credibility they need to go after every infraction equally not just the most successful. They did not even just dead end the domain the Sarasota MLS had to redirect the domain to take financial advantage of Marc's and REW's work this I find to be without class or tact. One thing for sure is the Sarasota MLS board will wish they were not doing quite so well on internet searches once the searches containing their name are primarilly derived from this blog.

Good Luck in your battle Marc!

Don Mann - Greenwood BC


I just heard that the SAR got the domain name transferred to them and are redirecting traffic to their membership site ... since they really don't have any consumer information on their site, what are they achieving?

Increased enrollment in real estate courses?

Lee Keadle

Even if the board took the url, I still don't see how they should have the right to use it. This is politics in action! I started with REW because of Marc's site and will help pass this message along. I've also posted a link from my site as many REW clients have. Good luck with everything Marc and I am very happy to see the REW community come together to fight this.


Marc Rasmussen

Thank you Lee. It is much appreciated. It has been quiet for a little while. No new news to report. The support from the REW community as well as everyone else has been great!

rew member

didn't Marc just answer your question on the post JUST before yours??

Morgan Carey

There is a phase 2 in the works which will involve a fundraising effort geared towards one of two goals

#1: If SAR does not settle, and we can raise enough funds to cover legal costs (and Marc still wants to take it all the way)


#2: The same fundraiser will be used to help Marc get back on his feet again - (Not that he's off his feet) but as you can imagine, this has taken a lot of time away from Marc being able to work on his new site, and time away from him being able to work leads, so if it turns out a settlement or court battle is not in the cards, I am hoping the community will come together in support of Marc

But we won't be asking for handouts - I have created a very special LEC that will be offered at standard rate "inspired by" the fallen site (which pretty much everyone loved) and a portion of the proceedes for each one purchased will go towards helping Marc get back any rankings he has lost including "Sarasota MLS" - like it or lump it, they will NOT be able to take that spot from us :)


Carolyn Gjerde-Tu

The Sarasota MLS is now on Facebook. Join the group to show your support.



I sent you a PM with the name of the great attorney who won one of my clients case with ICANN regarding the domain name. He also one a numerous other cases on DNs. I just want to publish his contact info here for those who have the same problem.

Morgan Carey

Veterok - that is very generous, however I beleive the laywer must be licensed in the state of processing.

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