Rehava, a small brokerage based in South Carolina, (featured in 2008 in an article on Inman News) recently got into a dustup with RE/Max, the national franchisor, over its logo.
Last week, RE/Max challenged Rehava’s trademark filing, and claimed the brand was too similar to its own.
In an article in the Charleston Post and Courier, RE/Max’s legal counsel Adam Scoville explained the rationale this way:
First of all, both names start with “r” and have logos with accent lines near the letter “e,” he said.”It goes beyond that,” Scoville added. “If you chop the top off of the ‘h,’ you (almost) have the ‘m’ in Re/Max. The next letter is an ‘a,’ and if you take the ‘v’ then you have half of an ‘x.’ “
Clearly, anyone looking at the two logos would be hard pressed to find the similarity and any allegations of trademark infringement on that basis border on the ridiculous.
Rather, Rehava’s owner Steve deGuzman suspects that the challenge was issued because of his company’s controversial rebate program, which may have been perceived as a threat to RE/Max’s traditional commission model.
“I think they did it because they’re worried about the future of real estate, and they really know that we might be onto something,” deGuzman said. “Anything they could do to slow us down would be to their advantage.”
This is an experience that the folks at Redfin can no doubt empathize with. That company suffered similar hurdles when they first launched.
In any case, the issue drew outrage from the online community on blogs, Twitter and in online comments and today RE/Max, perhaps sensing the blowback, dropped its suit (see ReMax Withdraws Logo Suit Against rehava).
We will probably never know the true motivations behind the legal challenge, but one thing is clear; in this day and age, the community will ultimately hold you accountable for your actions and these types of uncompetitive actions do very little to help your brand’s credibility in the eyes of consumers.