Insurance

Loans

Mortgage

Attorney


Insurance

Loans

Mortgage

Attorney

New Developments in RE/MAX Trademark Case

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Earlier, we brought you the controversial story of a trademark dispute between RE/MAX International and real estate technology pioneer FavoriteAgent.com.  The complete story has been documented and commented on at length at BlogMattBlog.com.  In short, RE/MAX believes that the yard sign as displayed on FavoriteAgent.com’s corporate web site (seen at bottom) is an infringement on their red-over-white-over-blue sign design, a registered trademark under the USPTO, and demanded that FavoriteAgent.com change their signs — or else.  Matt Jones, FavoriteAgent.com President/CEO, shot back, politely declining their request, and the matter escalated from there.

Central to RE/MAX’s case against FavoriteAgent.com is a similar trademark dispute in 2009 against Houston-based brokerage Trend Setter Realty, where RE/MAX ultimately prevailed and the courts ordered their competitors to cease all use of the offending signs.  The Trend Setter Realty sign that was ruled a violation of RE/MAX’s trademark is seen at right.  In one of RE/MAX’s demand letters to FavoriteAgent.com, they cite the 2009 case as precedent to expand their trademark to apply to all use of red, white, and blue — even in different shades, shapes, and proportions.

NewsGeni.us went back to find out more about the Trend Setter Realty case, and what we found was that the facts of the particular dispute were quite different.  Although RE/MAX won, the court’s decision was based on very specific evidence of infringement.  According to MarkLaw.com, cases such as this one often rest on two criteria to determine whether the marks in question are confusingly similar:

  1. “Whether or not the alleged infringer intended to trick consumers in order to “cash in” on the plaintiff’s business good will.
  2. Whether there has been any actual confusion. If so, this is not conclusive evidence of likelihood of confusion, but must be weighed together with the other factors.”

Although neither criterion is considered determinative on its own, they will give readers some insight to how a court might rule on RE/MAX’s case against Matt Jones and FavoriteAgent.com.

According to Realtor.org
, in the case against Trend Setter Realty, RE/MAX produced “an invoice on which the owner of the brokerage requested 10 signs with a ‘white background w/ R/M red and blue,’ with the ‘R/M’ being shorthand for RE/MAX.”  This suggests that the design was a flagrant attempt to confuse consumers and benefit from the RE/MAX’s brand recognition.

In addition, RE/MAX commissioned an opinion poll in which 25.3% of respondents associated Trend Setter Realty’s sign with RE/MAX’s.  (The full results and method of that survey have not been made public.)  By contrast, in their case against FavoriteAgent.com, RE/MAX has produced no evidence of actual confusion among consumers.  In fact, as we pointed out in our previous article, the “offending use” cited in RE/MAX’s complaint was taken from a promotional graphic on FavoriteAgent.com’s corporate website.  It is not clear whether the offending sign has ever been encountered in use.

RE/MAX Yard Sign:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FavoriteAgent.com Yard Sign:

InsuranceLoansMortgageAttorney

Comments (0)

To view or post comments you must connect to Facebook via the "Connect to Facebook" button.
Connect to Facebook