Denver-based global franchisor Re/Max LLC is suing a North Carolina brokerage for alleged trademark infringement and unfair competition.
In a complaint filed Dec. 28 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Re/Max filed suit against Atlantic Beach, N.C.-based Alan Shelor Real Estate Inc. and Alan Shelor, the brokerage’s founder, owner and broker-in-charge.
Alan Shelor Real Estate is a six-agent company that serves North Carolina’s Crystal Coast and has been in business since 1985, according to its website. The brokerage declined to comment for this story.
Re/Max alleges Shelor and his brokerage violated several federal trademark registrations for a group of service marks the franchisor called "Re/Max Marks."
The main service mark referenced consists of a rectangular sign displaying three horizontal bars colored red, white and blue, in order, from top to bottom.
Re/Max and its affiliates have been connected to the mark since at least January 1974, using the mark at least 22 million times since then in transactions worth a combined total of more than $2.5 trillion in sales volume, the complaint said.
Photo of Re/Max billboard included in complaint
Re/Max accused the brokerage of using " red-over-white-over-blue signs that are confusingly similar to the Re/Max Marks."
Photo of Alan Shelor Real Estate billboard included in complaint.
"The public has come to associate the distinctive Re/Max Marks with the Re/Max network as a source of high-quality real estate brokerage services," the complaint said.
"Defendants’ conduct is likely to cause confusion … or to deceive the purchasing public and others, whereby they would be led to mistakenly believe that defendants are affiliated with, related to, sponsored by, or connected with Re/Max or the Re/Max network," the complaint added.
The complaint also alleges Alan Shelor Real Estate violated both state and federal laws against unfair competition by attempting "to trade on the goodwill that Re/Max has developed in the Re/Max Marks, all to the damage of Re/Max."
According to the complaint, Re/Max seeks injunctive relief — to stop the companies from their alleged continued violations — and monetary damages. The complaint demands a jury trial.