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Rules target improper use of ‘MLS’ in company names, Web sites

Regional MLSs pass rules in Minnesota, Washington

The Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota, citing potential consumer confusion over access to MLS data, has passed a rule that restricts members' use of the terms "multiple listing service" and "MLS" in Web site addresses and company names. "Fundamentally what we're trying to do is reinforce the distinction between what is advertising and what is the contract between brokers for compensation. There is a branding issue here," said John W. Mosey, president of the Regional MLS, which has about 21,500 members and operates in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. "The object of this is to make it quite clear that there is no inference whatsoever that consumers are gaining special access to the MLS -- (or) that they can search the MLS." The new rule, which provides an exemption for those company names that were already in effect as of March 3, did not have unanimous support, Mosey said, though MLS board members were "overwhelmingly in favor." Those companies that violate the rules must c...

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