REALTOR® is NOT a job title

Lawyers are not generally known for their sense of humour. While they’re often the subject of jokes, they are generally not the ones making jokes – or at least not good ones. This is why it’s somewhat surprising to see a hilarious video released by the “lawyers” at Velcro. In the song and dance number they make a plea to the public to stop calling all “hook and loop” fasteners Velcro because it could result in their trademark becoming generic.

The video is funny, and certainly proves a point. Have you ever used the term “hook and loop” to refer to a fastener before? Exactly. However, even if the video may not solve Velcro’s plight, it does help us by raising awareness about the risk of successful trademarks becoming generic as a result of misuse.

This is something I’m always concerned about with the REALTOR® trademark. With more than 120,000 REALTORS® in Canada using the trademark it’s definitely well known. However, every misuse, by members or non-members, could lead us down the slippery slope of the mark becoming generic.

The most common misuse: using the REALTOR® mark as a job title. This is a violation of our context rule. REALTOR® is not a job title. It is not a noun. It is a mark that shows you are a member of CREA and subscribe to a code of ethics.

Using REALTOR® in the correct form – in capital letters as opposed to Realtor or realtor – helps ensure the mark stands out and maintains its distinctiveness. This form signals to consumers it is more than just a generic word. It’s a trademark.

So keep this in mind the next time you get an email from me or your board or association asking you to correct the use of REALTOR® in your marketing materials. We’re not trying to nit-pick, we’re just trying to ensure REALTOR® does not become like the overly successful “hook and loop” Velcro. And remember #REALTORnotAJobTitle.

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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