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On Redfin’s Claim to Real Estate 2.0

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Redfin

A Chronology of Events

April, 2006 – Redfin holds a contest for a new tagline

April/May, 2006 – Real Estate 2.0 (a term frequently used on this blog and others) is selected as the winning entry

June, 2006 – Redfin files for a trademark on Real Estate 2.0

June, 2006 – Redfin.com reveals its new trademark in an interview on this blog

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September, 2006 – Redfin.com sends a Cease and Desist to new blog ‘real estate 2.x’

September, 2006 – Real Estate bloggers react:

I won’t even get into my feelings around the contest and how it was managed – that’s a story for another time. And I certainly understand a business’ right to enforce its trademarks. But I do think Redfin is being unnecessarily heavy-handed here.

This whole affair reminds me of the silliness that surrounded publisher Tim O’Reilly’s claim to the term ‘Web 2.0’ (Behind subscription wall) that prompted so much online outrage.

As I’ve said in the past, I admire Redfin for their courage to try something new. However you feel about their model or business practices, it takes a certain amount of gumption or chutzpah to do things differently and that alone should be commended. But playing the bully is no way to endear yourself to your critics. With this action, Redfin stands to lose whatever goodwill it may have left.

Whichever way you cut it, the public relations stinks.

Redfin really should have been more selective in its enforcement. As long as the term was not being used in an commercial setting (in which case – I believe whole-heartedly that Redfin should enforce its trademark), I think Redfin should recognize “Real Estate 2.0” is used in the blogosphere as a generic term to describe the new group of Internet real estate companies.

It was a mistake to go after real estate 2.x – what little gain they got from getting them to change their name (no matter how justified an action it was), I believe they will lose exponentially more in bad will earned from the crowd.

In the end, it’s just not worth it.

UPDATE: Sellsius does some digging and finds that Redfin does not in fact hold the trademark to ‘Real Estate 2.0’, they have only filed an application for the TM.