How to keep it simple using the REALTOR® trademark

I’ve worked at CREA for several years, so I find the proper use of the REALTOR® trademark to be second nature. However, I’ve been told by some of our members our rules for use are a bit complicated. In these situations, a lot of members just don’t use the REALTOR® mark at all instead of trying to figure out how to use it properly. Well, my goal with this blog post is to boil these rules down into some Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) guidelines. Not that you’re stupid; it’s just a phrase, I promise.

First, the form rule. The first use of REALTOR® must always be in all capital letters followed by the ® symbol. CREA has some exceptions to this rule when REALTOR® is being used in longer publications, like newsletters, but those get complicated. If you want to KISS, which I know you do, then always use it in this form: REALTOR®. Don’t add to it, don’t modify it, don’t do anything other than this.

Next, the context rule. This rule states the REALTOR® marks must only be used to identify the real estate brokerage services and related professional services provided by members of CREA. That’s the complicated version. Here is the KISS version: REALTOR® means member of CREA—it’s not a job title.

Lastly, the trademark statement. This rule states all business and promotional material displaying any of the REALTOR® marks must, where possible, include a trademark statement. Again, that’s the complicated version. For the KISS version, always display the following sentence with all uses of the REALTOR® mark: “REALTOR®. Member of The Canadian Real Estate Association and more.”

Now I know these rules seem simple in principle, but using them in real-life scenarios can get confusing. So here are some real-world type examples of my KISS trademark rules.

Business cards and websites:

  • Don’t use REALTOR® as your job title.
  • Do use REALTOR® with your job title, i.e., John Doe, Broker, REALTOR®.
  • Add the trademark statement.

Bios:

  • Don’t say, “I started working as a REALTOR® 15 years ago.”
  • Do say, “I became a real estate professional and a REALTOR® 15 years ago.”
  • Add a trademark statement.

Other don’ts:

  • Don’t say, “I’m REALTORific”;
  • Don’t say, “Keep it REAL-TOR”; and
  • Don’t say, “Use my services, not those of a REALTOR-saurus or a non-REALTOR®.”

That’s it for the basics. Now, if you want to get fancy and use REALTOR® in domain names and social media, you’ll need to read Trademarks for Dummies. Not that I think you’re dumb, it’s a thing, I swear…

The article above is for information purposes and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.

Allison McLure, former Legal Counsel, provided advice to CREA, boards, and associations on intellectual property law, DDF®, and Canada’s anti-spam legislation, as well as protected CREA’s trademarks and helped members comply with federal legislation and CREA’s trademark rules.


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