Specific Uses of the MARKS
Members may distribute or sell merchandise carrying the MARKS as long as such merchandise includes the member’s name or firm name.
Member Boards may distribute or sell merchandise carrying the MARKS to the general public if such merchandise also includes the Member Board’s name. Member Boards may distribute or sell merchandise carrying the MARKS only to its members if such merchandise does not include the Member Board’s name.
NAR has implemented a trademark licensing program under which approved manufacturers and merchants may sell items bearing the MARKS without the name of individual members, their firms, or Member Boards. These manufacturers and merchants have submitted their products for approval by NAR and have entered into a written agreement with NAR. Such products include a notice that the product is licensed by NAR.
It is acceptable for a member to wear an article of clothing or accessory displaying a MARK even if that article does not include the member’s name or firm name. For example, wearing a t-shirt that only uses the REALTOR® Logo is using the MARK directly in connection with the member, so such use complies with the rules regarding proper use of the MARKS.
Most newspapers follow either the Associated Press (AP) Style Book or the United Press International (UPI) Style Book in preparing news items for publications. These style books do not call for use of full capitals or a federal registration symbol “®” for registered marks. Therefore, it is permissible for a Member Board or member to follow the AP or UPI guidelines when using a MARK in a news release.
News releases should include the definition of the term REALTOR® at the bottom of each page.
The term REALTOR® should never be used as a subject heading in any directories, such as the “Yellow Pages” phone directory, since such usage is tantamount to suggesting that the term REALTOR® identifies a vocation or line of service rather than membership in NAR. Any use of the MARKS in a directory should include the definition of the term REALTOR®.
“Institutional Advertising” refers to television, radio, and other media advertising, the benefit of which insures to a multitude of firms or offices which are not commonly owned or not commonly managed and which may be found in more than one Member Board's jurisdiction or in different states. The advertising is generalized in the sense that it does not mention the local firm name nor does it provide specific address or telephone information with regard to each office benefitted. An example is a national television ad promoting the services of franchisees of a particular franchise organization. Uses of the MARKS in Institutional Advertising that benefits offices of members as well as offices of non-members is strictly contrary to the exclusive rights of NAR in the MARKS, so it is prohibited.
NAR’s Constitution and Bylaws provide for the licensing of the MARKS to individual members or Member Boards. By special provision of the Bylaws, firms whose principals, partners, and corporate officers hold REALTOR® membership are entitled to use the MARKS in connection with, but not as part of, their firm name. No authority is given to members or their firms to sublicense the right to use the MARKS to parent corporations, franchise organizations, or networks. Thus, it is impermissible and inappropriate for a franchisor organization or a conglomerate to use a MARK in connection with newspaper, radio, or television ads. Even if a franchise requires that all of its franchisees be members of NAR, the franchise is still prohibited from using the MARKS in its institutional advertising.
Members whose offices are owned by or affiliated with conglomerates or franchise organizations have an obligation in furtherance of proper and authorized use of the MARKS to exert their influence in support of NAR's prohibition on the use of its MARKS in Institutional Advertising.
Ads prepared by franchises or conglomerates that do not use the MARKS but provide space for insertion of the local firm name, address, and one or more of the MARKS are acceptable. For example, a franchise television ad may close with specific firms listed by local name and address with one or more of the MARKS used in connection with each firm whose principals, partners, or corporate officers hold REALTOR® membership in NAR.
Article V, Section 6 of the NAR Bylaws authorizes individual members to use the terms REALTOR® and REALTORS® in connection with activities in support of specific candidates in specific elections as long as the definition of REALTOR® and the identification of those conducting the activity as members of a specific Member Board are included on all materials related to the members’ advocacy, unless not reasonably practical; and all such use of the MARKS ceases immediately after the election.
The support of state or federal candidates through fundraising committees or election committees involves compliance with state and federal laws and may require careful coordination with NAR and state associations. There may also be tax law implications. The same is true of lobbying activities. Accordingly, Member Boards are encouraged to seek competent legal counsel and check with NAR’s Legal Affairs Department before implementing any activities in these areas.
The policies and guidelines set forth in this Manual apply to all uses of the MARKS – including use on the internet and in social media. Therefore, Member Boards may only use the MARKS in their domain name or username if used properly in connection with their name or sponsored activities; and members may only use the MARKS in their domain name or username if used properly in connection with the member’s name or firm name.
The Limitation on Form requires Member Boards and members to use separating punctuation, all capital letters, and the registered “®” symbol. This Limitation is relaxed when it is not possible or feasible to use the required form in domain names or usernames.
The following examples are all proper uses of REALTOR® by a member named Jane Smith:
The following examples are all improper uses of REALTOR® because they each include a descriptive work or phrase in connection with the MARK:
The same rules set forth in this Manual regarding use of the REALTOR® Logo also apply to use of the REALTOR® Logos online—including use as icons for apps and social media profiles. Therefore, a member may use the REALTOR® Logo as an icon for an app or a social media profile if the app or profile is provided in connection with the member's real estate business and the REALTOR® Logo appears adjacent to the member's name or firm name. A Member Board may use the REALTOR® Logo as an icon for an app or profile if the app or profile is provided in connection with the Member Board's publication or services and the REALTOR® Logo appears adjacent to the Member Board's name. Acronyms and abbreviations are not permitted.
For additional resources, check out the Trademark Use in Social Media page on REALTOR.org.