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.
BuySarasota.com vs. Time2BuySarasota.com
It is interesting that the "SAR CEO" was quoted in several blogs and social networking websites. Regarding the case against TheSarasotaMLS.com, 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 - Time2BuySarasota.com. I was a little shocked when I heard this. I have worked hard for many years to promote my website www.BuySarasota.com . 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 BuySarasota.com in all of my marketing efforts for years. It is MY brand. I even have a Florida Trademark on the term "BuySarasota.com."
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 thesarasotamls.com to their website sarasotarealtors.com. 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.
- Should I schedule a hearing with ICANN over the Sarasota Association of Realtor's use of my domain and trademark?
- Should I just let it go?