Trademark ruling holds that `Realtor' isn't a generic term


May 09, 2004|By Chicago Tribune

It's still Realtor, with a capital R.

The National Association of Realtors has won the latest legal challenge to the trademark status of the term "Realtor." The U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled that despite the way many people tend to use the word, "Realtor" has not become a generic term and is properly used to designate someone who is a dues-paying member of the trade organization.

California attorney David Barry made the "generic" argument on behalf of Jacob Zimmerman, neither a Realtor nor a real estate agent, who owns about 1,900 Web site domain names using "realtor." Now, it appears, Zimmerman has a worthless bag of www's.

The trademarks board reasoned that although the usual test is what a term means to consumers, in this case what matters is how real estate agents recognize it.

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