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Should I take the Sarasota Association of Realtors to ICANN?

Posted by John Allen on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 3:12pm.

Most people that follow the online real estate community know about the case of the Sarasota Association of Realtors (SAR) vs. one of its members Marc Rasmussen. If you are not up to date on the case, take a moment and visit the link above. There are many outraged real estate bloggers posting about this injustice. In this post, I want to bring to light the Sarasota Association's infringement on my brand name and trademark. vs.

It is interesting that the "SAR CEO" was quoted in several blogs and social networking websites. Regarding the case against, she said that it was "in the best interest of the membership of SAR and of the public that SAR protect its rights in the trademark." 

Last year, I was asked by the SAR to be part of the Time2Buy campaign committee. The campaign was designed to educate consumer on the buying opportunities in the Sarasota real estate market. My website had recently won the 2007 CNBC International Property Awards - Best Website USA. They heard about the award and said they wanted someone with a knowledge of Internet Marketing on the committee. I thought it would be a good opportunity to contribute and I agreed to participate. 

SAR Used My Domain

In my first meeting, I quickly learned that the Sarasota Association of Realtors had registered the domain - I was a little shocked when I heard this. I have worked hard for many years to promote my website . Every person on that committee knew about my website. No one from SAR ever asked me for permission or if it was ok with me. It was obvious that they were trying to feed off of my unique name and wide brand exposure. They have used it in all of their marketing efforts including print, TV and online. I have used in all of my marketing efforts for years. It is MY brand. I even have a Florida Trademark on the term ""

I Never Raised an Issue With SAR

Even though I was upset with SAR using my domain, I let it go because I figured that the campaign was good for all Sarasota Realtors. I put my interests below those of the SAR members. It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. SAR's action against Marc Rasmussen have made me rethink my decision regarding their infringement.

Yesterday, the SAR decided to do a 301 permanent redirect from Marc Rasmussen's old domain to their website The result will be that they will soon start enjoying top rankings from all of Marc Rasmussen's hard work. Their rankings have already started to improve. If they are just "protecting its rights in the trademark," why do the 301 permanent redirect? The answer - to gain thousands of links pointing at the SAR website. Could this be the real motivation behind their actions?

This action really made me mad. It seems that the SAR had no problem infringing on my rights. It is the old "Do as I say, not as I do." It is complete hypocrisy.

My Questions

  1. Should I schedule a hearing with ICANN over the Sarasota Association of Realtor's use of my domain and trademark?
  2. Should I just let it go?

24 Responses to "Should I take the Sarasota Association of Realtors to ICANN?"

Eric Blackwell wrote: My opinion? I think this is a GREAT opportunity for them to REALIZE that THEY serve YOU as a member and NOT the other way around.

Their tactics are becoming readily apparent.

Thanks for posting this, John



Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 3:30pm.

Marc Rasmussen wrote: Very interesting. You can probably guess my vote. The association website is already ranking well for the work I have done and the money I have spent over the last 5 years.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 3:57pm.

John Sabia wrote: The more negative press about their tactics, the more it brings out their true motives.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 4:08pm.

Ken Smith wrote: If you don't protect your trademark then you can loose it. So this isn't even a question of IF you should, but you have to.

Even if that wasn't the case these thieves deserve to have a taste of their own medicine.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 4:08pm.

Cal wrote: Tell them you want a 301 redirect from that domain! LOL I bet they can't play ignorance to what one is.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 4:41pm.

Missy Caulk wrote: You were too kind. In honor of Marc, I just bought the domain name.

That is what we call our area. Ann Arbor Area so as not to exclude any of our outer counties. I was surprised it was available.
I think everyone should check their cities and see what is available. I look at AnnArborMLS and it taken it is a splog site.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 6:03pm.

Judy Orr wrote: Yet another great post and what relevance to our campaign for Marc! I'll be adding this to my list of posts on the subject.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 6:03pm.

Dennis Pease wrote: I think the members of SAR should come down hard on their Board Officers & Directors. It would be nice if one of the members had the email addresses of all members so we could make them aware of the greedy, envious lowlifes running their assiciation.

They are an embarrassment to our trade and should be removed from office.

If I somehow receive those email addresses I will make sure they make the rounds :)

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 6:03pm.

Carolyn Gjerde-Tu wrote: John, what's fair is fair. Maybe you should wait a couple more years for the domain name to age some more so you could take full advantage of a redirect.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 6:03pm.

Brian Kinkade wrote: My vote would be for option 1.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 6:36pm.

Ryan Ward wrote: Unbelievable. Option one all the way. What a sham.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 6:42pm.

Joe Lane wrote: I think we're all in agreement (except the SAR, of course) that option 1 is the best plan. John, it was kind of you to have let it go like you did. Too bad the SAR didn't do the same. With the exception of a few anonymous postings, where the heck is the SAR on all this? Perhaps, ducking for cover. Their time has come, however.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 7:09pm.

Jason Painter wrote: PLEASE OH PLEASE follow through with this and give these people a taste or their own medicine!

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 7:24pm.

John Allen wrote: Jason,

The 301 sure makes it look like they were after the links and authority of the domain.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 7:29pm.

James Boyer wrote: I vote for option #1

go get them.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 11:09pm.

Doris Barnett wrote: As if there wasn't enough bad news for REALTORS in the news today-What was the Association thinking? Time for some politicking guys! Get someone on the board who can change things and start a LEADERSHIP committee over there! One that gets the idea that "By Committee" means with a servant heart! Hang in there. Make the next vote count at the Association too! Just a few people can make a difference! I have seen it happen.

From an old TX trainer who's heart is still in Florida!

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 11:09pm.

Mike Askins wrote: Wow, at first I was wondering why Morgan Carey at REW was so wound up over this. I kind of read through his Blog and thought I got the gist, mind you it is hard to find the time, but Morgan is an upstanding kind of guy. So I watched the blog and then I got YOUR LINK. Then I hit the floor. Then it started to sink in just how LOW DOWN SAR really is. You know if they JUST WANTED the Domain Name DOWN and no longer ACTIVE, you know all they had to do was allow the webmaster the ability to 301 redirect it so that Marc could capture as much of search engine benefit that he alone paid to develop. That would have been fair. No it would have been FAIRER if Marc got to keep his URL seeing that he was URGED to use MLS in his domain name by the Association of Realtors themselves.

I WOULD GO AFTER THEM AT ICANN. What's good for the Goose is good for the Gander.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 11:09pm.

knox wrote: Do Sarasota realtors have a SAR membership list???

Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2008 at 6:28am.

jay seville wrote: The SAR is truly a hypocrite. As I put it at Morgan's blog:

More than anything you need to get Morgan's post, John Allen's post and the more controversial with its photoshopping to the local Sarasota papers and radio stations because this is a great and dramatic story for them and will hold SAR's reputation to the fire of public opinion and lead to great business for Marc Rasmussen.

John, my friend, you are in a position to really get attention by the media with this situation if you move forward and in so doing to get the redirect flowing back to Marc's current site after he spent perhaps $10,000s-100,000 on it along with 100s of hours of work which is being stolen by the SAR with their takeover and especially their redirect.

Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2008 at 7:24am.

Charles wrote: I agree with Ken. I suggest you use the same tactics the SAR has. They are very effective after all. Turn about is fair play. It should include damages as well.

Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2008 at 11:44am.

Knox wrote: Well, like Missy Caulk - we here also acquired a domain
I'm sure they'll be in a tizzy but in time it will redirect to Marc, SAR, obviously by their actions, is game for that "game".

Posted on Saturday, October 25th, 2008 at 1:03pm.

Hector Lesende wrote: Don't let it go. Go ahead and schedule the hearing with ICANN.

Posted on Saturday, October 25th, 2008 at 1:03pm.

Tina Fountain wrote: I think you should go after them as relentlessly as they went after Marc.

Posted on Friday, October 31st, 2008 at 11:46am.

Perry Corneau wrote: A few years back one of my websites was ranked by the Florida Realtor Magazine as the third best in the sate. SAR promplty began to harras me about the use of a data feed. I was threatend with a fine of $500 per day if I did not remove the MLS data feed from my site. Soon after the employee reponsible for thier actions against me left the association and set up her on real estate business and infringed in the RE/MAX trade mark by using thier red over white over blue signs. SAR is supposed to be a private trade group and should have no need for high rankings. They do not provie any service to the general public. Why are they so ben on stealing the traffic associated with Marcs domain?

Posted on Friday, October 31st, 2008 at 11:46am.

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