Can I Use the REALTOR® Trademark in Firm or Team Names?

Thinking about creating a new firm or team name? Interested in using the REALTOR® marks to represent your membership in the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA)?

Well, there are a few things you should know before you get started.

First things first…

The REALTOR® marks may be used by CREA members in firm names or team names under CREA’s Trademark Policy. I know that sounds great and you’re already thinking about the possibilities, but its not a free for all, there are a few caveats.

Before using the REALTOR® marks in your new firm or team name and setting out on your branding expedition, you’ll need to reach out to CREA and ask for permission. This can be done by submitting an application form.

It may sound tedious, but there’s a good reason we don’t let just anyone use REALTOR® in their name. CREA controls and protects the REALTOR® marks in Canada with the goal of ensuring the value and goodwill associated with the marks is maintained for all members. This means following processes and guidelines to protect against potential damage to its value.

Note: if you don’t apply to CREA and receive approval, you may run into trademark compliance issues down the road. This could result in having to change your firm or team name, and all associated marketing materials, including website domain names. To avoid the headache, be sure to follow the process and guidelines.

More from CREA Café:

We know there are a million and one possible firm or team names to choose from that use the REALTOR® marks.

While it’s inconceivable to think we’ve thought of them all, we’ve created some guidelines to help you understand what may be acceptable.

Firm or team names using the REALTOR® mark must consist of one of the following:

  • a member’s first and/or last name (for example: Johnson REALTORS®, Team Smith REALTORS®);
  • a franchise office name (for example: Century 21 Bravo REALTORS®); or
  • the REALTOR® mark combined with modifiers (for example: ABC REALTORS®)

The first two options are relatively straightforward, however the last option—modifiers—needs some additional explanation. Instead of listing what’s allowed, we’ve set out some restrictions.

Firm or team names consisting of the REALTOR® mark combined with modifiers must not:

  • give the impression the member owns the trademark (for example, REALTORS® of Canada or Commercial REALTORS® Group);
  • give the impression the member is endorsed by CREA or given preferential treatment (for example, Approved REALTORS®, Elite REALTORS®);
  • consist solely of a franchisor name and the REALTOR® mark (for example, Royal LePage REALTORS®);
  • consist solely of a geographical term and the REALTOR® mark (for examples, Vancouver REALTORS®, Toronto-Wide REALTORS® Team);
  • contain any terms that could be confusing or misleading in any way (for example, Toronto and Area REALTORS® could be confused with the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board or Caribbean REALTOR® Group could be misleading as the REALTOR® mark is registered in Canada);
  • contain modifiers that are inconsistent with the meaning of the REALTOR® mark (for example, For Sale By Owner REALTORS®);
  • hyphenate, abbreviate or expand upon the REALTOR® mark (for example, REALTORIFIC Brokerage, REALTORS4Life);
  • contain any terms that could result in weakening the trademark; or
  • contain any modifiers that may be considered offensive, relate to political activities, or relate to contentious social causes.  

The REALTOR® marks must also comply with the form rule when used in firm or team names. This means the mark must be displayed in capital letters and always include the registered trademark symbol.

While we’ve done our best to set out the factors CREA considers when reviewing firm and team names in these guidelines, it’s important to note determinations are made on a case-by-case basis and CREA has the discretion to refuse or allow any particular use.

One last thing

If your firm or team name follows the guidelines above, you’ve asked for and received approval, you’ll need to enter into a license agreement with CREA that covers the use of the REALTOR® mark in your firm or team name. Once the license agreement is signed, you’ll be able to set out on your branding expedition for your new firm or team name.

Isaac Martin, Legal Counsel, provides legal advice to CREA on contract and trademark issues. He is responsible for CREA’s trademark compliance, ensuring the proper use of CREA’s trademarks. He also assists the legal team with governance and DDF® matters. In his spare time, Isaac enjoys exercising, playing music, travelling and watching sports with friends.

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