HGTV Show - "Realtor vs. Realtor"

Re: HGTV Show – “Realtor vs. Realtor” 

Some of you may be aware that HGTV premiered a new show last Wednesday evening (September 30) called “Realtor vs. Realtor”. The premise of this “reality” show, according to the promotional spots, is that two real estate agents are “pitted” against each other to help a “desperate buyer” find a home. According to HGTV, the object is to “get the inside scoop on the dog eat dog business of real estate”. The two real estate agents, according to the ads, “may have diametrically different styles…but both real estate agents share one thing in common-they’re both intensely competitive…(and) are the shamelessly confident warts-and-all-types, who are not afraid to say it like it is.” 

The print ads show two people who are supposedly the agents. They are beaten up, with black eyes, and neck braces, supposedly symbolizing the beating they took at each other’s hands. The radio ads talk about being careful of “slashed tires”. 

In other words, this show is intended to appeal to the basest of viewer instincts by glorifying disreputable behavior on the part of real estate agents. 

The use of the REALTOR® trademark in the show’s title is, in CREA’s view, an infringement of CREA’s intellectual property rights. However, what is even more outrageous is the fact that HGTV would associate the REALTOR® trademark with conduct that violates the spirit and likely the letter of the REALTOR® Code. This message is completely contrary to the message of professionalism and REALTOR® value that CREA and its partners in organized real estate have invested so much time and effort in communicating to the public. Not only is the value of the trademark diminished by this type of broadcast, it harms the reputation and public standing, if not the livelihood, of hard working REALTORS®, who pride themselves in offering professional real estate services that comply with the highest ethical and professional standards. 

Accordingly, CREA’s outside counsel sent a letter to HGTV and its parent company, CanWest Broadcasting, on Wednesday September 30, 2009, requiring them to cease and desist using CREA’s REALTOR® trademark in connection with their show. Our counsel also contacted these organizations by phone to emphasize the seriousness of the situation. Both companies were put on notice that should they not comply with this request, CREA will immediately commence litigation and seek an interim injunction. CREA fully intends to exhaust all legal avenues available to it in protecting the valuable REALTOR® trademark. We will keep you informed of the status of this matter.  

William D. Harrington
The Canadian Real Estate Association

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Carol Ireland

Carol Ireland

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Millennium Inc., Brokerage*
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