The National Association of Realtors, notorious for defending it’s trademarks vigorously took to the pulpit to lecture Washington based marketing company, the Lones Group (whose CEO is an active Realtor, Washington State Broker License #12518) on the perils of picking a fight with the online popular kids which NAR refers to as a “mob.”
The Lones Group is suing popular blogger and Realtor, Daniel Rothamel for trademark infringement, which Inman covered on Friday, setting off a fire storm of protest to which NAR was the first to comment “I’m not a lawyer, but have a pretty good idea of how the court of opinion is about to rule.”
Years ago, NAR defended its own trademark by sending AgentGenius (formerly RealtorGenius) a standard cease and desist letter for using “Realtor” in the URL, and rather than fight we chose the high road despite what “mob” rule was pressuring us to do publicly to NAR. The “mob” was inspired to speak out against the “NAR machine” and websites like NARWisdom were born.
The difference between our case and the Lones v. Rothamel case is that ours was NAR v. alleged trademark infringer as opposed to Realtor v. Realtor. NAR weighing in on active litigation between Realtors has many questioning what has changed in their notoriously stiff position against trademark infringement.
Isn’t it curious that the NAR would use their bully pulpit position to pressure an individual marketer/Realtor into doing what they believe is right? Is it irresponsible of NAR to publicly organize the “mob” as if to insinuate safe passing if the Lones Group should see the light and drop their suit? Doesn’t “mob” organization bear implication of the possibility that the Lones Group could join the “mob” as a hero if they make the PR move to drop the suit? Doesn’t NAR’s position on the “mob” publicly assert their influence over the “mob”?
What harm does this do to NAR’s reputation- is this the future of the National Association of Realtors’ digital strategy?
Should the Lones Group bow to pressure from a giant trade association? Should the Lones Group fear an internet “mob”?
What has changed that NAR would value one member over another? What has shifted internally that NAR would put less weight on the importance of trademark after decades of vehemently defending their own?
AgentGenius has been following how NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun and his research department have handled the media controversy regarding their data and we have been rather impressed at the sophistication in which they’ve approached it, making the turn of events outlined above quite stunning.