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Limitations on License to Use the MARKS

Limitations on License to Use the MARKS

Membership Limitation

Real Estate Business Limitation

Geographic Limitation

Context of Use Limitation

Context of Use for the Term REALTOR®

Context of Use for the REALTOR® Logo

Form of Use Limitation

Form of Use for the Term REALTOR®

Form of Use for the REALTOR® Logo


There are important limitations to the license granted to members and Member Boards. They are the membership, real estate business, geographic, context, and form limitations described in this Manual and are official policy interpretations of NAR’s Constitution and Bylaws regarding use of the MARKS. These limitations, and the guidelines and policies under them, are essential to the orderly, uniform use of the MARKS, and to their preservation and promotion.

Membership Limitation

Only NAR, its members, and its Member Boards may use the MARKS. A member's license to use the MARKS terminates automatically in the event that for any reason, such individual ceases to be a REALTOR® or REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® member in good standing of a Member Board; or in the event that for any reason, his Member Board ceases to be a Member Board in good standing of NAR at which time the Member Board’s license would also terminate.

Because this limitation requires continuing membership as a condition to use the MARKS, members are not authorized to adopt usages which cannot be readily changed in the event membership ceases. For example, members should exercise forethought before using the MARKS on unalterable business signs, in domain names, or phone numbers which correspond to the letters spelling the term REALTOR®. Also, note, a Member Board must obtain written permission from NAR before allowing the department of transportation in its state to use the MARKS on specialty license plates.

Use of the term REALTOR® as part of the corporate name or business name of any member is prohibited. This prohibition is necessary to avoid the legal formalities of a corporate or business name change in the event of a termination, suspension, or expulsion from membership in a Member Board.

Collateral use of a MARK by a non-member, such as a journalist naming a member in a news article, is acceptable without NAR’s written permission provided that the non-member’s use of the MARK only refers to membership in NAR and does not indicate or imply that the non-member is a member or that NAR endorses, sponsors, or approves of a good or service.

NAR created a brief, animated video about how members may use the REALTOR® trademarks properly. Click here to watch it on REALTOR.org.

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Real Estate Business Limitation

Members are licensed to use the MARKS only in connection with their real estate business. According to Article III, Section I of the NAR Constitution, the term "real estate business" includes: real estate brokerage, management, appraising, land development, or building. The MARKS may not be used in connection with any other business or personal activities in which a member is engaged.

A member may use the MARKS in connection with the name of her real estate business even though other, non-real estate services are offered under that same  business name if:

  • Such other services are lawful and the member is licensed or otherwise legally entitled to offer such services; and
  • Such other services do not, and are not likely to, undermine or diminish public respect for or understanding of the MARKS, other members, Member Boards, or NAR.

Member Boards may use the MARKS in the title of, or otherwise in connection with, publications, services, activities, or functions sponsored by Member Boards provided that that Member Board’s name immediately precedes, follows, or is otherwise included in the title of the publication or service.

Member Boards may not use the MARKS in the name of, or in connection with, Member Board services, activities, or functions for which the Member Board lacks authority under its Bylaws, NAR’s Constitution, or federal, state, or local laws or regulations.

NAR created a brief, animated video about how members may use the REALTOR® trademarks properly. Click here to watch it on REALTOR.org.

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Geographic Limitation

Members are licensed to use the MARKS anywhere in connection with the place of business with which their membership is associated.

Member Boards are licensed to use the MARKS in their assigned jurisdictions. When used by a Member Board outside its assigned jurisdiction, the MARKS may not be combined with content that causes confusion or deception as to the Member Board’s assigned jurisdiction.

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Context of Use Limitation

Context of Use for the Term REALTOR®

Members are licensed to use the MARKS only in the proper context of identifying a member of NAR. It is vitally important to the preservation of the MARKS that they be recognized consistently by the public as identifiers of NAR members. The MARKS must not be used generically to denote a vocation or a business.

The guidelines and policies concerning context of use are designed to assist the public in recognizing that the term REALTOR® means a registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. The definition of REALTOR® should appear at the bottom of the page on which the term REALTOR® is first used in any written material.

The Member Test

Compliance with the context of use limitation can be tested by substituting the word “member” for the term “REALTOR®.” If the meaning or intended message is unchanged and not compromised by such substitutions, the term REALTOR® is appropriately used. If not, the term REALTOR® should be replaced by another phrase such as “real estate broker,” “real estate agent,” “appraiser,” “property manager,” or other words, as may be appropriate.

To illustrate the Member Test, consider the following statement:

John Doe is a lawyer, REALTOR®, and insurance agent.

Substituting “member” for “REALTOR®” yields:

John Doe is a lawyer, member, and insurance agent.

The word “member” in the statement clearly does not further the speaker’s apparent purpose of describing Mr. Doe’s professional diversity. It is possible, of course, that the speaker did intend to state that Mr. Doe is a member of NAR as well as a lawyer and an insurance agent. However, there is a possibility that the listener would incorrectly understand the statement to mean that Mr. Doe is a lawyer, real estate broker, and insurance agent. Thus, use of the term REALTOR® in the statement is not appropriate.

The same approach highlights the problem with webpages, social media profiles, letterhead, business cards, signs, and ads that include notices such as:

John Doe, Inc.
Builders—REALTORS®—Insurers

The likely intent of such notices is to advise would-be customers that the services offered include real estate brokerage. Even if the intent is to indicate membership, there is a possibility that such usage may cause the reader to view the term REALTORS® inaccurately as a substitute for “real estate brokers,” rather than an indicator of membership. Thus, use of the term REALTORS® is not appropriate.

If the principals, partners, and corporate officers of Doe’s firm are all members, then the following usage would be acceptable:

John Doe, Inc., REALTORS®
Builders—Real Estate Brokers—Insurers

Being a REALTOR® is not a vocation

Compliance with the Context of Use limitation in the case of oral communication requires forethought and continued awareness that the term REALTOR® does not describe a vocation or profession.

For example, when asked what he does for a living, an unthinking member may answer incorrectly, “I am a REALTOR®.” Obviously, the speaker does not mean that he makes his living as a “member.” Unfortunately, the response makes sense only if the listener assigns to the term REALTOR® the meaning “real estate broker.” Thus, by the answer given, the member has incorrectly used the term REALTOR® and, in the process, may have contributed to a misunderstanding of its meaning.

A response that is sure to clarify the registered status and special meaning of the term REALTOR® is,

“I am a real estate broker and a REALTOR®.” If asked to clarify the distinction, the member can provide an explanation of the fact and nature of membership, including the binding commitment of the member to the Code of Ethics.

In addition, because the term REALTOR® may only be used to identify members of NAR, it is not permissible to use the MARKS in reference to non-members such as “non-REALTOR®” or “non-REALTORS®.” Such individuals should simply be referred to as non-members.

Never modify REALTOR® with a descriptive term

The term REALTOR® may never be used in connection with a descriptive word or phrase. Because adjectives may suggest an improper vocational meaning and also tend to distort the consistent understanding and image of the MARKS, thereby undermining their identifying function, members and Member Boards are expressly prohibited from using descriptive words or phrases in connection with the MARKS. This prohibition includes use of geographically descriptive terms like the names of cities, states, and places and is set forth in Article V, Section 7 of the NAR Bylaws.

Wherever the MARKS are used – on business cards, flyers, websites, domain names, usernames, social media profiles, email addresses, or anywhere – they cannot be used adjacent to a descriptive word or phrase.

The following examples are all improper uses because they use a descriptive term in connection with a MARK:

Consult a professional REALTOR®
Doe County's leading REALTOR®
Your local REALTOR®
Your international REALTOR®
Commercial REALTOR®
myrealtorfrank.com
bestrealtor.com
listitonrealtor.com
hometownrealtor @email.com
chicagorealtorjane @email.com
Number1realtor
REALTOR_dad

While members may never use geographic terms in connection with the MARKS, NAR’s Board of Directors has granted Member Boards permission to use geographic locations in connection with the term REALTOR® provided that the geographic description is consistent with the assigned jurisdiction in official publications, domain names, and their NAR-approved association names. For example, it is acceptable for the state association in Ohio to call itself the Ohio Association of REALTORS®. And, it is acceptable for the Ohio association to have an official publication called “Ohio REALTORS®” and the domain name “ohiorealtors.org” as long as it’s made clear that the publication and website are offered by the Ohio Association of REALTORS®.

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Context of Use for the REALTOR® Logo

The context of use limitation for the REALTOR® Logo requires that it be used only in connection with the member's name or the member’s firm name and address. Members and Member Boards are not authorized to use the REALTOR® Logo in the absence of identification of the member, the member's firm, or a Member Board.

However, a member or Member Board may distribute items or awards bearing the MARKS without other identification so long as the purchaser or recipient is a member or Member Board licensed to use the MARKS.

NAR created a brief, animated video about proper use of the REALTOR® trademarks. Click here to watch it on REALTOR.org.

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Form of Use Limitation

Form of Use for the Term REALTOR®

The form of use limitation requires members and Member Boards to use the MARKS in a manner that highlights them in relation to adjoining print by: (l) the use of capital letters and, where necessary, boldface print or italics; (2) the use of separating punctuation where appropriate; and (3) the use of the federal registration symbol "®" adjacent to each of the terms.

The preferred format for written use of the MARKS is use of all capital letters with the federal trademark registration symbol. When the preferred format is not feasible, members and Member Boards may use the MARKS with an initial capital letter “R.” Unless it is used in a domain name or email address, members and Member Boards are prohibited from having a MARK appear in all lowercase letters.

Preferred Form:
REALTOR®
REALTORS®
REALTOR-ASSOCIATE®

Permitted Form (only when use of the “®” is not feasible):
REALTOR
REALTORS
REALTOR-ASSOCIATE

Permitted Form (only when use of all capital letters is not feasible):
Realtor®
Realtors®
Realtor-Associate®

Permitted Form (when use of the “®” and all capital letters is not feasible):
Realtor
Realtors
Realtor-Associate

When REALTOR®, REALTORS®, or REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® are used in the text of webpages, brochures, pamphlets, newsletters, or otherwise in the body of written material, all capital letters and the registration symbol “®” should be used in connection with at least the first use in each section of the body of the written material and in connection with each subsequent appearance to the extent practical. Each following use in that section must at least contain initial capital letters. Furthermore, the first use in any written material should include the definition of REALTOR®.

If all of the text in the body of the written material is in capital letters, the terms REALTOR®, REALTORS® and REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® should be made to stand out by the use of boldface type or by some other means sufficient to distinguish them from words of ordinary use and, in such instances, the registration symbol “®” should be used in connection with every appearance of each MARK. For example:

It will be of interest to your buyers and sellers alike that, as a REALTOR®, you are bound by NAR’s strict Code of Ethics.

IT WILL BE OF INTEREST TO YOUR BUYERS AND SELLERS ALIKE THAT, AS A REALTOR®, YOU ARE BOUND BY NAR’S STRICT CODE OF ETHICS.

IT WILL BE OF INTEREST TO YOUR BUYERS AND SELLERS ALIKE THAT, AS A REALTOR®, YOU ARE BOUND BY NAR’S STRICT CODE OF ETHICS.

The terms REALTOR® and REALTORS® may be used in connection with, but not as part of, a corporate or business name provided such terms are separated from the business name by appropriate symbols or punctuation. Separating punctuation should be used even when the term appears on a separate line immediately below the firm name. The same rule applies to use of the MARKS in connection with a member’s name.

Proper Form

J.J. Jones, REALTORS

S.S. Smith -- REALTORS®

S.S. Smith Realty, Inc.,
REALTORS

John Jones, REALTOR®

Sarah Smith,
REALTOR®

S.S. Smith Realty Company
REALTORS®

Possessives should be avoided whenever possible. Where necessary, possessives are formed as follows:

Singular Plural
REALTOR®'s REALTORS®'
REALTOR-ASSOCIATE®'s REALTOR-ASSOCIATES®'

The examples below serve to illustrate the rules and requirements discussed above and to emphasize correct use of the MARKS by reference to some incorrect usages. The following examples are all improper uses because they hyphenate, reconstruct, expand, combine, abbreviate, or divide the MARKS:

REAL-I-TOR
REALTORrific
Blue Ribbon Chain, R-E-A-L-T-O-R-S
Rltr.
REALTOR - Assistant

The following examples are all improper uses because they use the MARKS or parts of them to create or construct more complex designs or new terms:

BOB's REAL-TORent OF HOMES
REALTER
REALRITE
REALFER

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Form of Use for the REALTOR® Logo

The form of use limitation also applies to the REALTOR® Logo. The REALTOR® Logo consists of an “R” set in Futura Typeface on a sharply contrasting rectangular background to form a block “R” under which is centered the term REALTOR®. The rectangular block and the term REALTOR® centered under that block must be the same contrasting color.

Users of the REALTOR® Logo must adhere to the identification, color, spacing, and size requirements set forth by NAR. Such requirements are designed to assure that through uniform and consistent use, the public will continue to recognize the REALTOR® Logo as a distinctive mark and not simply a decorative symbol.

Members and Member Boards are encouraged to download the REALTOR® Logo from REALTOR.org to ensure use of the proper form. Click here to download it now.

Use of an identifier is required with the REALTOR® Logo

The term REALTOR® is called an “identifier” when it is used with the block “R” to form the REALTOR® Logo. Members and Member Boards must always include the REALTOR® identifier directly below the block “R” when using the REALTOR® Logo. NAR may use the block “R” without an identifier, but it has not authorized such use by members. Member Boards may request special permission to use the block “R” in connection with their Member Board logos or in architectural uses by obtaining written authorization from NAR’s Legal Affairs department. Such requests should be directed to: trademark@realtors.org.

Proper Form

Improper Forms

(No identifier)

(Bold identifier)

(Undersized block “R”)

(Oversized identifier)

(Incorrect spacing)

(Incorrect spacing)

(Improper color and framing)

The stylized “R” must sharply contrast in color with the rectangular background and be the same color as the field on which the rectangular background appears

An element of the REALTOR® Logo is a rectangular block underlying the stylized “R.” This rectangular block must always be a solid color that contrasts sharply with the stylized “R” and the underlying paper stock or other material. With one exception for use of NAR’s official colors, the stylized “R” must be the same color as the field on which the rectangular background appears.

Typically, the rectangular block and REALTOR® identifier appear in a dark color while the stylized “R” is light. It is permissible to reverse the usual color contrast of the REALTOR® Logo to a light block on a dark background if the background is sufficiently dark to insure a high degree of contrast. When the contrasting colors of the REALTOR® Logo are reversed in this way, the usual colors of the block, the stylized “R”, and the term REALTOR® must all be reversed so that both the block and the REALTOR® identifier appear in the light color on the dark background.

NAR has adopted as its official colors REALTOR® Blue and REALTOR® Gold and strongly encourages widespread use of these colors in combination as a means of making the appearance of the REALTOR® Logo uniform and prominent. REALTOR® Blue (PMS 293) and REALTOR® Gold (PMS 873) have been standardized by Pantone, Inc. Any printer can purchase these colors from any licensed Pantone Matching System ink manufacturer. This is preferable to having a printer attempt to independently match the official colors. If the stylized “R” appears in REALTOR® Gold, then the rectangular block must appear in REALTOR® Blue, regardless of the background on which the REALTOR® Logo is being displayed.

Although use of REALTOR® Blue and REALTOR® Gold is strongly encouraged, the REALTOR® Logo may be printed or displayed in any single color provided that the background on which the REALTOR® Logo is to appear is white or a sharply contrasting single color. For example, if dark green ink is chosen for printing letterhead on white paper, the REALTOR® Logo may also appear in dark green.

If two colors are used for printing letterhead or stationery, the darker of the two color choices should be used for printing the REALTOR® Logo. For example, when using dark brown and orange to print letterhead, the REALTOR® Logo should appear in dark brown. More than two colors should never be used to display the REALTOR® Logo unless those two colors are REALTOR® Blue and REALTOR® Gold.

Proper Form (when used on a dark background)

Improper Form (when used on a dark background)

The REALTOR® Logo must appear separated from other objects

To enhance the distinctiveness and recognizability of the REALTOR® Logo, an “area of isolation” should be maintained around each use of the REALTOR® Logo. This area of isolation is an amount of space equal to half the width of the block “R.” This space keeps the REALTOR® Logo separate from other objects, such as typography, illustration, photography, borders, geometric shapes, or the edge of the printed piece. The REALTOR® Logo must never be framed or outlined.

The elements of the REALTOR® Logo must remain readable and maintain the same relative proportions and spacing

The size of the REALTOR® Logo is often determined by the intended application, i.e. business cards, stationery, etc., and the manner in which the mark is to be reproduced. However, the elements of the logo—the block “R,” the REALTOR® identifier, and the ®—must remain readable and maintain the same relative proportions and spacing. The size of the registration symbol, “®”, may be increased as necessary to ensure its readability.

Proper Form (increased size of ®)

Improper Form

The block “R” in the REALTOR® Logo should never be smaller than 0.375 inches or 20 pixels wide. If the REALTOR® Logo is enlarged to more than three feet in width, then the registration symbol must be readable at a distance of 20 feet.

The REALTOR® Logo is shown below superimposed on a grid to illustrate the proper size relationships among elements. Such a grid illustration should be provided to sign companies, ad agencies and others retained by members or Member Boards as an aid for large scale applications.

Improper Uses of the REALTOR® Logo

The examples below serve to illustrate the rules and requirements discussed above and to emphasize correct use of the REALTOR® Logo by reference to some incorrect usages. The following example is improper because it redraws, reshapes, traces, tilts, intersects, photographically alters, or otherwise distort the REALTOR® Logo:

The following examples are all improper uses because they use the block “R” or the Futura “R” as part of a company or individual name, or as the first letter of any words beginning with “R,” particularly words like “Real Estate,” “Realty,” or “REALTOR®”:

The following examples are all improper uses because they superimpose the REALTOR® Logo over a graphic pattern or design:

The following examples are all improper uses because they combine the REALTOR® Logo with another symbol or device:

The following examples are all improper uses because they outline or frame the REALTOR® Logo:

The following examples are all improper uses because they use an identifier other than one that is approved and have improper size and typeface:

The following example is an improper use because it reverses the contrast of the block "R" without also reversing the contrast of the identifier below it:

The following example is an improper use because it reduces the REALTOR® Logo to the point where either the identifier or the registration symbol is not legible:

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