A three-judge panel of the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board unanimously ruled that the terms “Realtor” and “Realtors” are not generic terms. Petitions to cancel the National Association of Realtors’ rights to these terms were denied.

In the 39-page opinion, the judges made the affirmative finding that the terms are not generic, that is, they are not synonymous with real estate agent or real estate agents, and concluded that the petitioner failed to prove otherwise.

“This is a tremendous victory for Realtors everywhere, affirming our right to the terms ‘Realtor’ and ‘Realtors,’ which designate the highest standards of professionalism and commitment to a strict Code of Ethics. The trademark decision puts to rest any question about NAR’s exclusive rights to these terms,” said NAR President Walt McDonald, president of Walt McDonald Real Estate, Riverside, Calif.

The Trademark Board’s decision was issued in a case involving a challenge brought by Jacob Zimmerman, a former hotel management student at Cornell University who registered approximately 1,900 domain names containing the word “Realtor” in hopes of making money selling the URLs. The challenge was the most recent in a series of unsuccessful challenges to NAR’s right to use the terms Realtor and Realtors .

Since 1916, when the unique term “Realtor” was coined, the term has come to be recognized as identifying members of the National Association of Realtors . NAR registered the trademarks in 1949 and 1950, soon after a new trademark act went into effect.

The National Association of Realtors is a trade association representing 1 million members, including NAR’s institutes, societies and councils, involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.


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