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NAR® v. Homeowner's Corp. of America: National Association of REALTORS® Prevails in Suit for Trademark Infringement

Note: This case is not published in an official reporter and may not be cited as authority. Consult with counsel before relying on this case.

In NAR® v. Homeowner's Corp. of America, a North Carolina district court addressed trademark issues concerning the terms "REALTOR®" and "REALTORS®." The court held that the defendants infringed upon the marks, and enjoined the defendants from further use.

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) owns the federally registered trademarks for the terms "REALTOR®" and "REALTORS®." Defendant Homeowner's Corporation of America (Homeowner's), organized in California, operated as a real estate brokerage and franchising company. Defendant Cullen was its President.

NAR alleged that Cullen adopted the term "independent REALTOR®" to describe himself and the services he rendered. NAR claimed that Homeowner's adopted the same term to describe itself and the services it rendered to its franchisees. NAR also alleged that Homeowner's authorized and promoted the use of the term by its franchisees. NAR sued the defendants for trademark violations under 15 U.S.C. Sections 1051-1127.

The district court found that NAR was the owner of registered trademarks for the terms "REALTOR®" and "REALTORS®." The court held that the defendants infringed upon those marks by using the terms "independent REALTOR®" and "independent REALTORS®," without the consent of NAR, and that such use had been likely to cause confusion or to cause mistake or to deceive members of the public. Thus, the defendants competed unfairly with NAR, used a false designation of origin or false description or representation in violation of 15 U.S.C. 1125(a), and injured NAR's business reputation. Finally, the court issued an order in which the defendants were enjoined from further use of the terms "REALTOR®" or "REALTORS®."

NAR® v. Homeowner's Corp. of America, Docket No. C-81-1656 WAI (N.D. Ca. 1981). [Note: This opinion was not published in an official reporter and therefore should not be cited as authority. Please consult counsel before relying on this opinion.]