The US-based National Association of Realtors has withdrawn its Community Objections against five applicants for .realestate and .realty, according to well-placed sources.
The five separate objections, which had been combined into one action under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Centre for Expertise, were withdrawn today.
NAR is a million-member trade association — apparently the largest in the US — comprising real estate agents that agree to pay dues and abide by its code of conduct.
It owns a trademark on REALTORS® and, judging by its objection and web site, is not shy about letting you know it. In the States, only NAR members get to call themselves “realtors”.
It has applied for .realestate via a subsidiary, dotRealEstate LLC, and had objected to applications for .realestate from Donuts, Top Level Domain Holdings and Uniregistry, and applications for .realty from Donuts and smaller portfolio applicant Fegistry.
The objections were combined in May, with the consent of the responding applicants.
NAR argued (pdf) that the applied-for strings are synonymous with its community of members, and that the other applicants’ proposed open-house registration policies would tarnish their reputation.
To win a Community Objection, you have to show among other things that there’s a strong nexus between the string at issue and the “clearly delineated” community you purport to represent.
While the case seems to have been withdrawn before it was decided by the ICC panel, NAR’s rivals were zeroing in on this as a weak spot in its objections.
The Uniregistry response (pdf) is as amusingly brutal as you’d expect from company counsel John Berryhill, using the NAR’s own marketing materials and positions in previous lawsuits against it.
Uniregistry pointed for example to a video on NAR’s web site that says:
We need your help to ensure that the term ‘REALTOR’ continues to mean member of the National Association of Realtors, and not just any real estate agent.
Uniregistry took this as an admission from NAR that the nexus between the universe of “real estate” professionals and the NAR is not as strong as the organization had tried to make out.
Objector and its members make up only a fraction of that “community”… myriad divergent interests and countless individuals and organizations populate the sphere of “realty” around the world. Objector does not claim to speak on behalf of any of them, but rather only its own membership in the United States.
Now that the objections have been withdrawn, and all the applications are still active, the .realestate and .realty contentions sets are both heading to auction or private settlement.