July 4, 2019

How to Use the REALTOR® and MLS® Trademarks

Avoid copyright infringement and promote public confidence with appropriate trademarks in your marketing materials.

Ever since the 13th century when King Henry III passed the first trademark legislation on bread—yes, bread; ensuring quality baked goods were protected from imposter bakers—the laws surrounding trademarks have expanded and improved. Punishment for trademark infringement is serious business.

What is a Trademark and Why is it Important?

A trademark is a company’s unique wordmark and/or logo that distinguishes it from other similar companies in the marketplace. According to Canadian Law, the importance of a trademark is two-fold:

  1. It is a way of protecting the public in the sense that they’re “getting what they paid for” as a brand promise.
  2. It is also a way of protecting the trademark’s owner, who has spent a great deal of time and money on his product or service, preventing others from unfairly using them as their own.

Trademarks and the CREA

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has created and defined a set of rules surrounding certain terms to govern the Canadian real estate industry in accordance with our country’s trademark law. Failure to follow their rules when using the terms can result in serious punishment.

The CREA owns the following trademarked terms: REALTOR®, MLS® and Multiple Listings Service®.

A complete set of rules on trademarks as laid out by the CREA can be found here for download, as they pertain to capitalization, hyphenation, and proper context and usage.

REALTOR® Vs. Real Estate Agent

Learning the difference is crucial to proper usage of the CREA trademark. A “real estate agent” is NOT synonymous with REALTOR®. The trademarked REALTOR® is a real estate professional who is also a member of the CREA, and abides by their code of ethics.


It follows that the term MLS® is NOT synonymous with a database. It is, in fact, to be utilized as a way to describe professional services as provided by a REALTOR®.

Practicing Trademarks Makes Perfect

The more you use the appropriate version in your marketing materials, the easier it will become.


Correct Usage

Contact your local REALTOR® today!

Check out my new listing on the Vancouver MLS® System today!


Incorrect Usage

Contact your local realtor today!

Check out my new listing on MLS today!


Do your research, read the CREA’s handy downloadable guidebook, and practice appropriate usage. You’ll thank me later.

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