National Association of Realtors goes after

Association files arbitration case targeting gay real estate referral site.

The National Association of Realtors has filed a complaint with World Intellectual Property Organization over the domain name [Update 3/8/12: The NAR won the case]

The domain name is owned by gay real estate agent Jeff Hammerberg. Hammerberg runs the web site, which helps connect home buyers and sellers with gay real estate agents. appears to be more of a lead gen site for Hammerberg, as well as linking to his main web site.

Although details of the complaint are not known, this seems like a curious enforcement action for the Association. It’s only the sixth domain arbitration case the group has filed under UDRP over the past twelve years.

I can assume that some people don’t want Hammerberg spreading his message, though. He says that gay buyers and sellers are sometimes discriminated against and “this can drastically reduce your chance of proper representation and getting the best deal on real estate”.

Update: I talked to Hammerberg to get more details. He said there’s been an ongoing dispute between the NAR and he about the domain for 5+ years. He’ll respond to the NAR, and then a year later he’ll get a new letter from a different person at the organization.

Update 2: I talked to Hammerberg’s lawyer, Curt Handley. He said he’s curious how NAR is going to show bad faith, given that they acquiesced for about five years.


  1. SL says

    Holy cow, grab the popcorn.

    A highly-charged social issue, equal rights discrimination, free speech, trademark infringement, big money association involvement and WIPO all rolled into one.

    The only missing element is PETA. would be a fun decision to follow 😉

  2. Bob Willcock says

    This dispute is about the inclusion of a trademark “realtor” in a domain name
    Not about sexual discrimination
    Claiming discrimination is tantamount to playing the “gay” card to derail the complainants legitimate concerns

  3. says

    There’s a guide on how the REALTOR mark is licensed, see:

    Assuming the domain name owner is a realtor, the mark owner is probably arguing the usage is against some term in that manual.

    I’m guessing it might be the geographic limitation, i.e. the site is promoting other realtors beyond just the one who owns the domain. Beyond that, the site isn’t using the registered trademark symbol ®, as the manual seems to require.

    Also, on the “Use on the Internet” section, it says “The term REALTOR® may not be used with descriptive words or phrases.”

  4. says

    I agree with Bob. Using the mark “REALTOR” in your domain is clearly defined, and this is an obvious violation. It’s about time NAR becomes proactive and addresses this.

    • says

      Sure, I agree with you guys at a high level. Question is: why are they trying to make an example out of this site?

      Even more interesting is that they’ve been in communication with the owner for 5+ years, trading letters. According to the owner, each time they tell him he needs to make a change to come into compliance. He says he makes that change and doesn’t hear back for a year. Then another staffer at NAR emails him.

      Will be interesting to see how the panel decides the issue of rights/legitimate interests in the domain name.

  5. Drew says

    Realtor is in the dictionary. Unless he is using their logo, I think they need to back off. Like P Diddy trying to copyright the letter P or Starbucks trying to copyright an italian numeral “venti” – this is just plain stupid.

  6. says

    “Realtor is in the dictionary.”

    “Yeap, “Realtor” is a common English word like “Grandma” or “sidewalk.”

    Guess what:

    “Definition of REALTOR

    —used for a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors”

    “a person who works in the real-estate business and is a member of the National Association of Real Estate Boards”

    North American trademark
    an estate agent.”

    Realtor is an example of what’s called a collective trademark:

    “A collective mark is any word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof owned by a cooperative, an association, or other collective group or organization and used by its members to indicate the source of the goods or services.”

    In this case, realtors are members of NAR.

  7. Rob says

    how the hell can NAR get a trademark on the term realtor? like seriously. this is a generic term listed in the dictionary which describes an occupation which many 1000s of people have. so if i am a realtor i now cannot register “”? and if i live in new york i cannot register “”? maybe this was stupidity/corruption by the trademark office, or perhaps this is an abuse and overreach by the NAR?

    i just wonder how many other realtor domains they are pursuing. and how many other realtor domains they are NOT pursuing. maybe that would shed some light on whether they are unfairly targetting him coz of his sexuality. in any case he is gay and a realtor – no trademark can change that and take away his rights to combine his sexuality and his career title in a domain name.

    go get ’em jeff, give it to them up the ar$* !

  8. domain guy says

    I used to own the domain
    8 yrs ago.contacted realtor and was notified this was unauthorized use..I dropped the domain someoneelse picked it up and is using it and there is no enforcement action.
    gayrealestate this site is successful earning over 250k in referral fees.gayrealtor is an unauthorized use and the domain should be cancelled.
    realtor is a famous mark under protection and realtor is a conservative company and will enforce its ip rights..that whats going on here…

  9. says

    “this is a generic term listed in the dictionary which describes an occupation which many 1000s of people have.”

    And what are those dictionaries defining the word realtor as?

    Incidentally, Google is also in the dictionary. Yet, they’re also still a trademark.

  10. says

    The NAR has every right to defend their trademark. However they do not own the actual word “Realtor”
    It’s like Ford not letting local dealers use the word “Ford” in the domain name. It is obvious to the entire world that this website is for a Ford dealership and they are not trying to make or sell counterfeit copies of F150s.

    Another point that will lead to the NARs intimate failure in this campaign is that they “say” they are enforcing the rule (not using the word realtor in a domain name) but not actually doing anything other than sending out an occasional email or phone call every 6 months to a year.

    Do a Google search for any city in America “Atlanta Realtor” and you will see the word “Realtor” in titles, facebook page names, twitter account names, domain names, files, folders, listings, ads, images, pretty much everywhere.

    NAR – you do not own the word “Realtor” you can enforce your rules within the membership of your association but you can’t just force everyone on planet earth who uses the word “Realtor” to Cease and Desist.

  11. says

    Andrew, it would be interesting to test this case given the descriptive use of the term. He also does seem to use the R (circled) in his site. Have you called his attorney to see if there will be litigation (doubt it but it would be nice to see)?

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