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MLS settles antitrust lawsuit over naming rule

Agreement allows 3 violations before dismissal from MLS

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A group of real estate professionals and companies have settled an antitrust lawsuit filed last year against the Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota over restrictions on the use of "MLS" and related terms in company names, Web addresses and marketing. MLS officials have said that the rule change was intended to preserve the integrity of the MLS while preventing consumer confusion about access to MLS information. But opponents have said the rule punishes MLS members while giving a competitive advantage to third-party companies that are free to use MLS terms in marketing without any penalty, as U.S. Realtor groups and listing services do not own the trademarks for "MLS" and "multiple listing service." The settlement agreement does not change provisions in the rule that ban member companies from using the term "MLS" in their company name or Web address, and it extends until Dec. 31, 2008, the period in which companies can redirect their noncompliant Web addresses to another add...