A Realtor friend of mine in Sarasota has recently faced an aggressive legal battle launched at him by the Sarasota Association of RealtorsÂ®, (SAR) of which he is an active member, because of the use of "mls" in his website address. The use of "area mls" in a Realtor's website address was widely recommended in a 2002 article written by "Mr Internet" in a publication by the National Association of Realtor'sÂ® (NAR). Marc Rasmussen, a Sarasota Real Estate Agent, purchased his website address "thesarasotamls" back in 2003 based largely on the advice he read in the article and when marketing real estate on the internet was in it's infancy. Mark continued to spend numerous hours and thousands of dollars over the next 5 years creating and improving what had become the number 1 Sarasota Real Estate website and was rewarded for his efforts by achieving high rankings in the internet search engines. A recent change in Article 12 of the National Association of RealtorsÂ® Code of Ethics, now allows local RealtorÂ® Associations at their sole discretion to determine if their members are permitted to use the term "mls" regardless of how long they have used it and especially with disregard to the recommendation featured in the Mr Internet article. It should be pointed out that "mls" is not a trademark of any RealtorÂ® Association, instead the trademark for Major League Soccer (MLS). The public has also come to know mls as a common everyday term for real estate property listings. However, it was prior to this change in the ethics code that the Sarasota Association of RealtorsÂ® decided to take legal action against Marc, apparently in an effort to shut his website down. A website that was highly respected for doing what a real estate website should do, provide consumers with real estate information and real estate property listings. Morgan Carey, the web designer for Marc explains in detail in his blog post Help us Fight the Sarasota Association of RealtorsÂ®, the legal action which began with an ethics complaint against Marc filed by SAR (Sarasota Association of RealtorsÂ®) for which Marc was cleared of any wrong doing. This is where I and many others believe SARÂ® went too far crossing the line. The Association, rather then accept this ruling, continued action against Marc outside the scope of an ethics complaint, in a legal maneuver, brought their argument to the Internet Corporation for Unassigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) - which as you will read below, has nothing to do with ethics. ICANN mission statement In a split decision, ICANN ruled in favor of the Sarasota Association of RealtorsÂ®. Marc has filed a lawsuit in Federal court against the Sarasota Association of RealtorsÂ® to allow him to maintain control over the old website address (domain name thesarasotamls.com). Marc has already redirected the old address to his new website address. By allowing Marc to maintain control over the old domain and through the redirect to his new website will preserve the past 5 years of hard work and maintain the authority Marc's old site had gained and avoid Marc having to start all over again. There has been an enormous outpouring of support for Marc from fellow RealtorsÂ®across the country and a barrage of protests against the Sarasota Association of RealtorsÂ® has now put this issue into the lime light. They have an opportunity to do the right thing, bring this to a close and allow Marc to remain in control of the old domain. If they continue to force Marc to surrender the website address to SARÂ®, than in my opinion, as shared by many others, this was never about ethics, nor an action to protect the consumer. Rather a contemptuous action far more rooted in taking down a Realtor'sÂ® website possibly because of jealousy or envy. Read the linked articles, and you decide.
- Inman News - MLS Name Dispute Lands in Court
- Paul Francis - Sarasota Association of Realtors - Who Does it Really Hurt?
- Eric Blackwell - SAR: The Real Cybersquat
- Cal Carter - The SAR Pokie
- Ryan Ward - Sarasota Association Slaps one of Their Own
- Charles Richey - Don't Cross the SAR
- Judy Orr - Sarsota MLS attacks Its Own Member
- Joe Lane - TheSarasotaMLS is gone - Maybe Your Next
- Knox - TheSarasotaMLS
- Herald Tribune, Sarasota - Man Fights Realtors Over A Web Address
- Wanna Network - Unite Against The Sarasota MLS Board
- Cal Carter - Sarasota Association of RealtorsÂ® Throught It's MLS Takes Down It's Own Member ....... featuring a listing of all related blog posts
To list your article here, email me or post in comments. To voice your support for Marc, contact the Sarasota Association of RealtorsÂ®
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