Lund: When did MFRMLS join REDPLAN?
Cowen: MFRMLS joined REDPLAN a few years ago. I joined the Board of Directors shortly after.
Lund: Why did MFRMLS join REDPLAN?
Cowen: Our Board of Directors was motivated by the need that they see for this kind of non-profit entity. Among MLSs today, there is little education that delivers best copyright practices or collaboration for MLSs to fight patent trolls. Our hope is that the industry can work together to temper these issues before they escalate to court battles.
Lund: What was the most surprising benefit of REDPLAN that you did not expect?
Cowen: It’s a great resource for our legal counsel. We have learned about cases that are looming. We went through our copyright review and got good guidance on our related documents .
Lund: What is the Prior Art and Forms Library and why should people care?
Cowen: The Prior Art and Forms Library was recently launched in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Council of MLS. REDPLAN members like MFRMLS brought our Forms and other materials for the library and handed them over. We believe that the library adds value to membership in REDPLAN. With a library of information cataloged in one place, MLSs and Associations can get out in front of the expensive and time consuming effort of gathering evidence well before due diligence for a case. I suspect that future cases will not even go to trial once the Library is fully installed.
MFRMLS has a policy of copyrighting our subscriber’s compilation of listings on a quarterly basis. Now, our engagement with REDPLAN has become a vehicle to model how to protect other assets on behalf of our subscribers. Our listing input form is a great example.
Lund: How can other MLSs and Associations contribute to the REDPLAN Library?
Cowen: Send them everything. Once the information registered with REDPLAN, the library and REDPLAN can support you at protecting them as needed.
REDPLAN stands for Real Estate Data Protection Legal Association Nonprofit. REDPLAN is an organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of the intellectual property rights of MLSs, Associations, real estate brokerages, real estate technology firms and any organization that compiles real property information. The organization has four main purposes: advocacy for intellectual property rights; incubator for best practices concerning intellectual property usages and rights; investigative and monitoring services for data theft and misuse; clearing-house for litigation strategy.
About Merri Jo Cowen
Merri Jo Cowen is the CEO for My Florida Regional Multiple Listing Service (MFRMLS). MFRMLS was founded in 1995 and is owned by 14 REALTOR® associations and boards that represent more than 43,000 professionals in the real estate industry. It is one of the largest MLSs in the U.S. and the largest MLS in Florida.
With Merri Jo’s leadership, MFRMLS member subscriptions now include more than 15 products and services with the latest RE tech offerings like Matrix™, CloudCMA and ListTrac™. MFRMLS customers also have convenient access to highly-rated tech support through the MFR Call Center and Member Relations teams. MFRMLS continues to make customer service and innovation a priority for its customers, and the company has recently surpassed 50 employees.
In addition to leading MFRMLS, Merri Jo also serves on the Board of Directors for REDPLAN and is currently a director and dean of the CMLX program. She participates in the Realtor.com Association Executives Advisory Group and is a past president of CMLS. She has also served on the National Association of REALTORS®’ Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee.
A real estate industry professional since 1979, Merri Jo was selected as the first CEO of the Northern Nevada Regional MLS in 2003 before accepting the position of CEO at MFRMLS in 2008.
About Victor Lund
Victor Lund is the CEO of RETechnology.com, partner in WAV Group Communications, and founding partner of WAV Group consulting. During his 20 year tenure in the real estate industry, Lund has provided research and strategic consulting to most of the largest firms in real estate brokerage, franchising, technology, Associations of REALTORS®, and Multiple Listing Services.
Today, WAV Group is focused on a number of projects that may have a fundamental impact on how consumers and financial markets access real estate information: Project Upstream, Broker Public Portal, Real Estate Standards Organization, and REDPLAN.
More information may be found on the web at www.WAVGroup.com or on Linkedin @victorlund.