Do you know why the term “REALTORÂ®” is capitalized? It is because REALTORÂ® is a registered trademark of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). (r)ealtor is NOT proper use of the REALTORÂ® registered trademark NOR is it appropriate to use it as a generic term when you mean a real estate agent.
Why is this important? Because there is a lawyer named David Barry who filed suit in 1998 to cancel NAR’s trademarks for the terms “Realtor”, “Realtors” and “REALTORSÂ®”. He lost, but he’s still making waves and filing suits today. His latest endeaver is to start an independant Multiple Listing Service in the U.S. He has an organization, The Open MLS Institute which appears to be masquerading as a non-profit organization, but is actually funded by several real estate companies who want to use copywrited listings for their own profit.
Barry’s main arguments for an open MLS appear to be ethical, yet most of the ethics situations he sites are clear violations of the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics. It seems like most of the ethics violations he cites could be taken care of by requiring membership in the NAR (hence bringing real estate agents under the jurisdiction of a Code of Ethics), yet in the past, Barry has sued to do away with some state real estate boards requirements that MLS members belong to the National Association of Realtors.
What is David Barry’s true goal? Some may say that his goal is not ethics or reform, but destroying the NAR and the privately-owned MLS’s so companies that do not share these goals, or, in some cases, even actively participate in the buying and selling of real estate, can use the privately held data (listings) for their own benefit and profit.
It has been interesting to watch Mr. Barry, and he’s someone to keep an eye on.