Update on Dot MLS Domains Association

by Victor Lund on October 2, 2012

dot mlsThere is some interesting news on the effort of a bundle of MLSs to procure the Internet Top Level Domain of MLS. But first, let me begin with a sidebar about Canada and trademark.

In Canada, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) filed a trademark on the brand, MLS®. To avert a long winded discussion of the implications – think of it as a trademark that provides CREA with all of the rights that the REALTOR® trademark provides to the National Association of REALTORS®. It was a brilliant move that prohibits anyone from using the term MLS® in Canada. In Canada, only.

MLS®, Multiple Listing Service®, and the associated logos are all registered certification marks owned by CREA and are used to identify real estate services provided by brokers and salespersons who are members of CREA.

In America, the early colonists of MLS data did not seek such protections under United States Trademark law. As a result, the term MLS is not much different than the term Property Search. It is a common use word that may be adopted by anyone in marketing or otherwise.

This has created a problem whereby some cleaver marketers are using the term MLS to falsely lure consumers who are seeking information about real estate listings and real estate services. Because there is no trademark protection, there is little that the real estate industry can do. Their only effort was to pass a NAR rule forbidding any REALTOR® from using the term. This effort has largely stopped REALTORS® from using the term, but non-realtors are free to do as they please.

ICANN, the global policy maker on Internet Domain Names recognized that they are running out of possible Dot Com domain names on the Internet. This is astounding – but lets leave that appreciation aside. ICANN recognizes that there is benefit to creating classes of top level domains (TLD) on the internet. For example, Dot Gov relates to government; Dot Edu relates to education; Dot Sex relates to…well you get the picture. These classes help consumers access websites with information on the Internet and provide the surety that the domain names are sincere. The Dot MLS Domains Association submitted an application for the top level domain of MLS in an order to create a benefit for consumers and real estate professionals to differentiate property search online. If successful, Dot MLS would effectively provide benefits which are similar to those that CREA enjoys with their MLS® Trademark.

Dot MLS formed the association of MLS operators to raise funding for the application fees and legal costs required in petitioning ICANN for a top level domain. Unless someone submits a petition to ICANN that is more worthy than Dot MLS, they will prevail. Initially, it was feared that the Major League Soccer (also MLS) might be a contender. However, after observing the efforts in America, CREA emerged as a competitive petition offering ICANN the same plea for a TLD.

For the many volunteers and investors in Dot MLS, the news of CREAs petition dealt a heart felt blow. CREAs petition to ICANN has all of the same fundamental reasons for being awarded the Dot MLS TLD but they have the extra force of their Trademark. ICANN has been very diligent in prohibiting anyone from being granted a TLD for someone else’s’ trademark. I was planning on petitioning for the TLDs of Dot Apple, Dot Microsoft, Dot Google, and others – but this policy shot me down.

Fortunately, the Dot MLS Domains Association contacted their brethren to the north and reached an accord. CREA and Dot MLS Domains Association have joined together in their petition to ICANN. Together they have a well funded and solid application that will hopefully prevail.

BLC - Broker Listing Cooperative(r)It is worth mentioning that MIBOR had a different solution in mind to cure this problem. They figured that they would change the term from MLS to BLC®. They trademarked the term BLC®, and own the domain name, BLC.com.

To clarify, MIBOR conceived BLC® and Broker Listing Cooperative® to:

1) recapture the culture of a cooperative for its brokers and agents, and

2) to set apart the uniqueness of the listing cooperative to consumers from other conglomerate data sets so readily available today. MLS is widely misrepresented in the mix of property advertising and databases. That misrepresentation is harmful to REALTORS®.

Like the pride and protection afforded to members through the REALTOR® brand, the BLC® brand distinguishes REALTORS® from non-REALTORS® and reinforces the cooperative nature of the industry.

My deepest and sincere apologies if I missed an (r) somewhere in this article. I tried my best.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Phil Van Der Heyden October 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm

When you apologize for missing an (r), I assume you are referring to the symbol for a Registered Trade Mark, ®. While I did not see any of those errors, I was more concerned about the first line of the fourth paragraph; “some cleaver marketers”. As REALTORS®, some of us may have other careers to supplement our income. However, I am not sure how many are butchers, chefs, or in professional kitchen supplies! These may be the only ones who may be interested in marketing cleavers! ;-) The ‘dumb’ thing about technology, and Spell Check, is that is does not undertsand misuse of a word, as long as the word is spelled correctly. Although the phrase, “some cleaver marketers”, is correct. it is out of context in this situation, and there is no way a computer can tell the difference.

Reply

Phil Van Der Heyden October 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm

See, even I can make a mistake! ;-) I was referring to the first line in the fifth paragraph! Mea culpa.

Reply

Jim (JR) October 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm

While I appreciate the petition for the “MLS” TLD, I think a lot of this trademarking has gotten out of hand.

I am absolutely aghast that, even in Canada, they would agree to trademark a term that is already in common, generic, use. They might as well trademark “Real Estate”, “Agent”, “Broker”, “For Sale”, and “SOLD”. Along with other unique terms like “bath tub”, “soap”, and “shampoo”.

I’m just shaking my head in wonder. . . .

What say ye?

Jim (JR)

Reply

Victor Lund October 10, 2012 at 11:29 am

They had the trademark well before the term had common use.

Reply

jim fay October 11, 2012 at 2:34 am

Cleaver?

Reply

jim fay October 11, 2012 at 3:04 am

I think that clarity in marketing is an important goal. The insertion of dot BLC into the mix would be a curve ball for the general public to understand without massive amounts of marketing. Dot MLS has so many more points of recognition in the marketplace as to be nearly priceless. The consumer recognition is already there. Even misunderstood, it’s emphasis on size is impressive to anyone contemplating the market reach for our services.
Dot BLC would appear as a “new kid on the block” that would demand it’s own explanation and require energy just to bring the public back into the comfort zone of known forces and accepted branding. Best of luck with this one.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: