The Gift that Just Keeps On Giving! (Must Read!)



Well my sign saga moves to a new level.  Many of you responded to my earlier article and informal survey asking you if you were confused by our company’s yard sign and its non-resemblance to the Re/Max sign design.

In one of my most read, and most commented on articles in the past year, I shared with you how Re/Max International corporate headquarters sent our company a “cease and desist” letter demanding we change and replace all our yard signs, nationwide.

They asserted that Re/Max owns a trademark on any use of red-over-white-over-blue in a real estate yard sign and that we were infringing on their trademark!  Needless to say, we didn’t see it that way.  I believe my exact thoughts were, are you freaking kidding me?

There are only three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow.  Only two of them contrast well on a white sign.  (Any idea which two?)  They further claimed that consumers would be confused and unable to distinguish our companies’ respective signs.  I responded and posted a copy of their letter and my response on the previous article.

After that, I thought it might be fun to conduct an informal, non-scientific test, so we put one of their yard signs next to one of ours and asked readers to see if they could pick out the Re/Max sign.  (See the illustration above.) Amazingly, not a single agent was confused!  Several, however, were amazed at Re/Max’s overly-broad interpretation of their own trademark and many were annoyed by their intimidation tactics.

So this week I received another fat envelope from Re/Max.  This one was their “final” demand letter.  I answered it as well, and have posted a link to both letters, in case you are interested, or similarly find this amusing.  Click here to view their “final” demand letterClick here to view my reply.

Please feel free to weigh in and comment below.  For the record, FavoriteAgent.com has no intention of rolling over for Re/Max and while we respect their trademarks, we are not the least bit intimidated by this power-grab. Re/Max is more than welcome to pay us to voluntarily change our sign design or not pay us and we’ll just keep it. Either way, it looks like it will be a source of entertainment a bit longer.

Share this :
Matt

I give away about 99% of all my technology and digital training content, completely free of charge, because I want to see other agents have the same kind of success that I've had. But one thing I charge for is my Ultimate Website technology. This is the web technology I created for myself that turned my real estate practice around overnight, and now I license it agents everywhere. But right now it's too popular and is currently waitlisted. Click here to get on the website as soon as possible and I'll notify you as soon as new invitations become available.

Comments 116

  1. author J. Richie posted April 26th 2010. 5:26 pm Reply

    Gimme a break! This is America and the colors red, white and blue cannot be used in that order on a real estate sign??? I thought their whole schtick was the hot air balloon! They might want to get the word out a little better about this trademark issue since I cannot think of a single person who is aware of this monopoly. As you said, could be a bummer for independents everywhere who have a bunch of signs made only to find themselves locked in mortal combat with this company to change their signs.

  2. author Linda posted April 26th 2010. 5:31 pm Reply

    The Red,White, and Blue, is too generic to claim as their own. since they chose the red white and blue, that’s their problem. It was already in the market long before they started using it. Their trade mark is the balloon. I’m amazed they’ll spend money on this. I had enfridgement on my company name, years ago. The culprit knew they were stealing, so they backed down.

    Their name, is there brand, not the colors. Good Luck, and God Bless.
    Linda

  3. author NameKaren posted April 26th 2010. 5:35 pm Reply

    Matt, I have to say, it looks like you picked the same exact colors, the same red on top blue on the bottom format. There are some differences but not much. I would not want to bet on that one. Good luck!

    • author Matt Jones posted April 26th 2010. 9:10 pm Reply

      Thanks Karen for reading and for your comment. Sure enough, you are a Re/Max agent. Actually, our colors are completely different (although there are only so many shades of blue and red) and the amount of red and blue on the signs are completely different as well. Also, if you do a quick Google search of Re/Max signs, you will find every possible shade of red and blue. Even withing your own company there seems to be no consistency of design — how can we possibly avoid every single shade of red and blue?

  4. author Peg posted April 26th 2010. 5:45 pm Reply

    Read the letter, looked at signs. No confusion there. You have a roof top they have a balloon. Red, white and blue sounds familiar….. oh yeah, our American flag. This is foolishness on the part of ReMax.

  5. author David Gardner posted April 26th 2010. 5:46 pm Reply

    …wait til someone in the Netherlands notices that their flag is being used to sell real estate.

    (lol)

    -DG

  6. author Darwyn posted April 26th 2010. 5:48 pm Reply

    Hello Matt,

    I do not believe that the issue is that agents can not tell the difference in the signs, it’s the general public. I have not seen many Hamburger joints other than one have Golden Arches, or a fried chicken place have a gentleman with a white beard and have a different name. Then I look around and see a large blue GM letters on cars and trucks which are all under the same company. What is so hard to understand?

    What made you chose the same design layout as a RE/MAX sign and not one of the other major RE companies?

    I take the offer that you laughed at from the legal counsel to be helpful so you do not make the same mistake twice on a new sign layout.

    Matt I do not know you nor do I agree with the actions taken here on the web, but some times it takes character to move beyond mistakes. I hope you step up to the plate and show all involved in this to date that you are better than what I have read here in your reply.

    • author Matt Jones posted April 26th 2010. 9:05 pm Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Darwyn. It’s interesting that virtually the only comments supporting Re/Max are from Re/Max agents. Hmmmmm. First, the fact is that we didn’t copy Re/Max. Frankly, we want nothing to do with them. One of the top graphics firms in the US designed our logo graphics (the same firm that designed Advil, NBA Basketball, and many other national brands) and they helped us with our own trademarking.

      The simple fact is that Re/Max is trying to use cases, like this one, to expand their limited trademark into a far-reaching trademark of red, white, and blue. If companies all run when the bully challenges them, then eventually we will all have orange and green signs. I, for one, am willing to stand my ground when I know I am in the right. If you read the actual trademark documents that I posted on the first article, you will see what the USPTMO gave them was far less than what they are asserting.

      Anyway, thanks for your comment and for reading.

  7. author Rick Stroud (Dynamic Realty, Greenville, SC) posted April 26th 2010. 5:51 pm Reply

    Hey Matt,

    This certainly seems like a silly issue for ReMax….but I guess their corporate attorneys needed something to do. Good for you for standing your ground. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

  8. author Bill Wootan posted April 26th 2010. 5:51 pm Reply

    I am not sure the previous comment went thru or not, but here it is again!

    I would have returned their 14 page document with the largest jar of Vaseline that I could find, with specific directions on how they should dispose of said letter.

    I guess their attorney’s are not busy defending them, and need additional jobs! Go get em Matt!

    Bill Wootan
    Century 21 Associates (Formerly Century 21 H T Brown)
    Waldorf, Md.

  9. author Sandra Matson posted April 26th 2010. 5:54 pm Reply

    All I can say is what a joke! I see no comparison and I am sure there are plenty of red, white and blue signs out there. What are they thinking?! My opinion of ReMax just dropped several notches.

  10. author D. Hilton posted April 26th 2010. 5:55 pm Reply

    Hold your ground. Re/Max is not the proprietor of the red white and blue. Last time I checked this was the United States of America where we are all free to use the colors we choose in advertising. What is the likelihood of confusion? This is what they will have the burden to prove. I would say zero. You should prevail with ease. Good Luck my friend.

  11. author Harold VanProoyen posted April 26th 2010. 5:55 pm Reply

    Re/Max is a bully… no way is there any confuston about those signs. … is Re/Max going to sue the USA since the American Flag uses red, white and blue…..or maybe sue Texas for the color scheme of their state flag???

  12. author Harriet Carter posted April 26th 2010. 5:56 pm Reply

    No balloon.
    The colors and fonts are different.

    This is just ridiculous!
    It’s a red, white and blue sign- do they want to say that the American Flag is infringing on their image too?

    Keep on them, Matt.

    Harriet Carter, Realtor

  13. author Ted posted April 26th 2010. 5:58 pm Reply

    Good for you!!! I had a similar fight with Century 21, when we using the TM: Above the Gold Standard.
    They seemed to think that they owned “the gold standard” even though it is in common use and generally refers to everything from gold to cadillacs. After a year of fighting, we just gave in because we couldn’t afford the fight. The schoolyard bully won, because it wasn’t worth the expense to us.
    Good luck in your fight.
    Ted

  14. author Sean Goerss posted April 26th 2010. 5:59 pm Reply

    Yeah, Matt, that’s pretty crazy of Re/Max. Maybe Century 21 should have a monopoly on any real estate signs that contain yellow and black….oh, wait, then they would have to sue Weichert Realtors!

    Anyways, don’t back down!

  15. author Barbara Nichols, Assoc. Broker, CRS,CRP,CNE,GRI,SRES posted April 26th 2010. 6:03 pm Reply

    Matt. I know you think you are right and in a perfect world you just might be.

    I have been licensed in CA and AZ since 1976. I started working for Re/MAX in 1978. I know they have the red over white over blue colors copy writed. There really is not too much you can do.

    I faced a similar problem when I moved from CA to AZ to semi-retire(haha, what an oxymoron). Anyway, I registered a domain name that contained the words “Sun City” years before I even moved here. Pulte came after me like a house on fire once I started using it. I could not use Sun City as part of my domain name because they had it copy writed . Of course they were only going after real estate domain names not any other retail or commercial operations. I had several lawyers look at the case before I capitulated. Most would not even consider taking on Pulte and the one that did wanted a $25000 retainer up front as he knew it would be very expensive.

    So, my advice would be to give in before it costs too much. Sorry.

    • author Matt Jones posted April 26th 2010. 8:56 pm Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Barbara. I am not worried. They can’t prove any damages, they will be very hard pressed to prove likelihood of confusion, and my worst case scenario is to get lots of free publicity while they look like bullies and then change my signs if I happen to lose the fight. The only reason they are attempting this stunt is because most agents just turn tail and run. I was raised to stand up for what is right and I will do that as long as I can. Thanks again for commenting.

  16. author John F. Barros, Barros Real Estate Services posted April 26th 2010. 6:07 pm Reply

    Good for you, Stick to it, I am sticking to mine, I am in New England, and Remax is loosing ground and many Agents. There is plenty of Competition out there, and they see it comming.

  17. author Richared Donald Briggs posted April 26th 2010. 6:09 pm Reply

    You know Matt, when you’re wrong you’re wrong. If they do in fact have a legal position that supports their asking you to cease and desist from using your signs, which in fact are using the color combinations protected by their Company. You need to get a life and admit you are wrong. Maybe then you could go to them and ask permission to use your signs. But you have to live within the law like everybody else. That’s how it works. You lose, end of story. Quit belly aching and stop trying to get other malcontents to join in your rantings. It does not change the fact that you are WRONG.

    • author Matt Jones posted April 26th 2010. 8:53 pm Reply

      Why am I not surprised that you are a Re/Max agent? You clearly haven’t read the letters I posted. The fact is that the actual trademark is very limited in scope. What Re/Max is asserting is far more than what they have a legal right to. Maybe you think that I should just run in fear like many others, but I am afraid that is why we have a court system. If they want to spend your royalties to sue me, then I welcome the fight… I am happy for the exposure it will bring me.

  18. author Paul posted April 26th 2010. 6:14 pm Reply

    Both rather look like an American flag. Who owns the trademark on that?

  19. author Ricki Eichler posted April 26th 2010. 6:15 pm Reply

    They do not look alike. The blue and red is actually a different shade of color if your photos above are accurate. Your “Favorite Agent” in the middle is completely different. Can’t believe they are making such a fuss.

  20. author Kelly posted April 26th 2010. 6:22 pm Reply

    I can clearly see which is ReMax and which is not. I don’t believe this is an issue.

  21. author Tim Massingale posted April 26th 2010. 6:23 pm Reply

    I’m with Realty Executives. We had Red, White, and Blues sign before Re-Max (in fact they copied the 100% concept that originated at Realty Executives).
    Your sign doesn’t remotely resemble theirs, Besides–what does a Hot air balloon have to do with real estate anyway? Maybe it’s a description of their hubris.

  22. author Randy Palizzi posted April 26th 2010. 6:33 pm Reply

    I am in the State where Remax was born and a mile away from their top producing office repeatedly in the US. I don’t have any affiliation with them and don’t care to join them. But here, they have the lion’s share of inventory and one of the highest production/agent ratios in town, if not the highest. I won’t be joining them though.

    That aside, I think your signs are FAR too similar to theirs and it looks like an intentional attempt to mimic their protected sign. If I were them, I would be sending a cease and disist as well.

    But, I don’t like the big guys pushing the smaller guys around so I wish you all the luck in the world.

    • author Matt Jones posted April 26th 2010. 8:47 pm Reply

      Hi Randy,

      Thanks for your comment. Actually, one of the top design firms in the US designed our logo graphics and we have tried very hard to distance ourselves from every know national brand. The idea is to create our own brand.

      As to their agent production… frankly, the only reason they have the top producing agents, is because they are the only ones who can afford to pay $1400-$1500 per month in rent plus additional fees. Do the math — if you don’t do several transactions a month, you’re better off about anywhere.

  23. author Tom Branch posted April 26th 2010. 6:33 pm Reply

    RE/MAX® is simply defending its trademarks. If they do not, the trademark becomes less valuable. In the recent Trendsetter case, the court found in RE/MAX®’s favor partially because of their consistent defense of the trademarks.

    Your poll is flawed. Most agents would not be confused by the two signs. However, it’s the public that matters. If the public thinks your company is associated with RE/MAX®, well…

    • author Matt Jones posted April 26th 2010. 8:43 pm Reply

      Hey Tom,

      Thanks for reading and for your response. The law is really pretty clear. They have to prove a likelihood of confusion. I clearly haven’t undertaken a scientific poll, but of the hundreds of people who have read this story, there are none who have been confused. Even while you have sided with Re/Max, you weren’t confused. The fact is that the two designs are very dissimilar and we are prepared to fight this if need be. Of course, they are welcome to pay me and I will be happy to redesign. At the end of the day, it will be cheaper than suing me, and it will have a certain result.

  24. author Durry Garbutt posted April 26th 2010. 6:40 pm Reply

    Don’t back down. Remember, there’s no known cure for stupidity, and you can’t teach common sense. And never under-estimate the stupidity of idiots in groups.

    RE/MAX should be ashamed, but probably more embarrassed for having launched this ridiculous campaign.
    Perhaps you could put a disclaimer in 6 point type on your signs…”Not affiliated in any way with the idiots at RE/MAX” Or maybe really BIG TYPE.

  25. author Bev Lanthorn, Associate Broker posted April 26th 2010. 6:54 pm Reply

    Matt,

    That is ridiculous. No one owns the colors, otherwise, John L Scott Real Estate owns Green and White. It was clearly not the same sign. Why have a hot air balloon on your sign if it does not distinguish you? I work with lots of ReMax agents and look for the balloon on the sign because of all the new companies in the area.

    Tell them to grow up and change their logo, if they truly believe it is ineffective. Otherwise, let’s get on with selling real estate, it helps all of us to move our product. So get moving… on to more productive ways of doing business.

    Stick to your guns.

    Bev Lanthorn
    Associate Broker
    John L Scott Belleuve Main

  26. author Robert Stone posted April 26th 2010. 6:57 pm Reply

    Way to go Matt.

  27. author Mitzi posted April 26th 2010. 6:58 pm Reply

    Hey….this is AMERICA….Maybe they should have conferred with Betsy Ross as they may have infringed upon her creative color scheme in portraying our land of the free with red, white & blue

  28. author Kathleen Meece posted April 26th 2010. 7:04 pm Reply

    Couple of questions? Can you take on a $300+/hour attorney to fight this? Are you willing to spend the next several years of your life receiving these kinds of letters? I can relate to this situation because I had a developer who said I infringed on his trademark because I used the name of “his” subdivision as my real estate company. My personal opinion is don’t let them intimidate you but I am not paying the atty bills when they come in. Hopefully, you can get this resolved within a short period of time and get back to what you do best Matt. You have my support no matter what happens.

  29. author Vicki Woody posted April 26th 2010. 7:10 pm Reply

    I personally like Bill’s response…….

    I thought the dang balloon was their trademark not the colors! How sad to be so insecure and unprofessional as to start some mess like that. Doesn’t speak to well for ReMax now does it?
    Appreciate someone like you that will fight for what you believe in and not back down from trivial BS.

    Thanks~

  30. author Greg Barnhouse posted April 26th 2010. 7:11 pm Reply

    What infringement? What confusion? I thoroughly enjoyed your response.
    Best of luck to you.

  31. author Doug Abercrombie posted April 26th 2010. 7:16 pm Reply

    What about ERA? I’m looking at one right now and maybe it’s blue over red over white but I’m pretty sure it’s RED over Blue over White. How do know which color came first????
    If they are really serious it truley is LMAO funny!
    Doug

  32. author Barbara Rathbun posted April 26th 2010. 7:20 pm Reply

    Once again the large corporations like to make sure they have taken over..red, white and blue…they jown that now too…

  33. author Robert T posted April 26th 2010. 7:29 pm Reply

    Classic response, Matt. I especially like the jab you took at the first letter writer, although it was (sadly) probably some schmuck who just passed the bar exam and is just happy to have a job.

    Please keep posting, this is funny stuff…and hey, who couldn’t use a laugh now and then?

  34. author Ken posted April 26th 2010. 7:44 pm Reply

    Oh, I get it. They have a copyright on the colors red white and blue. Yea, that’s it.

  35. author Phoenix Realtor posted April 26th 2010. 7:55 pm Reply

    Wow…I used to work for another local company with a logo that looked NOTHING like Remax’s logo. Ours was a white background with blue letters, very little red and they made us change our logo as well. What a pain it was to go out and buy all new signs and cards, etc. Really doesn’t make me want to ever work for them.

  36. author Cheryl Major posted April 26th 2010. 8:07 pm Reply

    I think it’s pretty simple. Re/max owns a trademark on any use of red-over-white-over-blue in a real estate yard sign. By the way, I’m not a Re/max broker.

    • author Matt Jones posted April 26th 2010. 8:37 pm Reply

      Thanks for your comment. Actually, it’s not really that simple. They do own a limited use trademark on their submitted sign drawings. Those drawing all use specific red, and blue colors, as well as equal part 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 red, white, blue. Our sign is not the same shades of red and blue, nor do we use the same relative weightings of the colors. They would like to lock down all uses of red-over-white-over-blue, but I am willing to fight them over their over reaching.

  37. author Jeri Groves posted April 26th 2010. 8:22 pm Reply

    Wow! The ARROGANCE! Since RE/Max is now losing agents left, right, and center, maybe they have to think any real estate agent WEARING red, white, or blue in their clothing might ALSO be infringing on their color scheme. Too bad they can’t concentrate their efforts on helping distressed homeowners out of under water properties, or something similarly relevant in today’s distressed economy and housing market!

  38. author Kelly Pratt posted April 26th 2010. 8:27 pm Reply

    Can someone really have a trademark on colors? I would agree that the balloon is a trademark, but there is nothing on your sign that resembles the Re/Max balloon. I don’t find enough similarities on the two signs to cause any confusion. There must be better uses of time and money than such a frivolous demand.

  39. author Liz Papenbrock posted April 26th 2010. 8:37 pm Reply

    Sorry, Matt, I can’t agree with you. You need to get your own ORIGINAL sign! Yea, I happen to be a RE/MAX agent and a former broker-owner, but I’d feel the same way if not.
    Since this is likely to go on and on, I need you to take me off your email list. I have too much stuff to put up with than to have to hear the latest in your sign saga. Geez…

  40. author Brian Burry posted April 26th 2010. 8:46 pm Reply

    Is the United States flag then in violation of the supposedly “RE/Max sign infringement issue”? Gee, it has Red, it has White and it contains blue! Oh my gosh, guess RE/Max should sue the United States of America with it’s baseless and friviolous demands.

    You know, this is the bottom of the barrell for those corporate type companies that really make 100% of their money on the backs of hard working real estate agents and yet appear to produce nothing but signs as their primary business. Sad, I say they should focus on why anyone would want to associate them!

  41. author Joanie Doane posted April 26th 2010. 9:06 pm Reply

    Are some corporate heads up in the clouds instead of here on earth where the real estate we list & sell is located? Maybe the execs need suggestions of how to utilize time & money more productively!

    Owning rights to colors? Are they going to pick on every agency who uses the R-W-B color combo in their signage?

  42. author Tom Thomas posted April 26th 2010. 9:10 pm Reply

    Gee, anyone who uses any of these colors might be in RE/MAX’s sights, including FOR SALE BY OWNER SIGNS.They’re red and white.

    Tom
    Long and Foster Real Estate, Inc.,

  43. author Mark Epstein posted April 26th 2010. 9:19 pm Reply

    Mark Epstein

    Better get working on the new design for the sign. Re/Max has bigger pockets and will own you.

    Mark

  44. author Ken Ahler posted April 26th 2010. 9:21 pm Reply

    I believe that Re/Max sued another competitor several years ago and won their case. They have copyrighted the colors and logo and have been successful in their pursuit of monopolizing that red, white and blue layout… Just info for you to know… your might be in for a fight that has been won before!! Good luck amigo…

    Ken Ahler Real Estate Co., Inc.

  45. author Nannette Delaney posted April 26th 2010. 9:23 pm Reply

    Matt,

    As much as I agree with you, I doubt you have DEEP enough pockets to beat the bully GIANT and they will bury you! A company here in Houston just went through the same thing and you may want to talk to them-Trendsetter Realty. Their attnys told them to give up, they will never beat ReMax.

    I wish you Good Luck but don’t be stupid!

    Best Regards,

    Nannette Delaney
    Broker, CRS, GRI, ABR, CBR, e-PRO, SFR
    Certified Residential Specialist
    Re/Max Executives

  46. author Sondra Burwick posted April 26th 2010. 9:25 pm Reply

    Funny, when l left them and went to Kimling I altered my signs, w/photo over the balloon, etc and I got a call on it as well.

    I responded that m new signs had arrived and their “red, white and Blue” secured color combination was now safe…

    Red, white and blue. Hello, tell it to Betsy Ross… I think Old Glory is using that color combination.

    Good luck

  47. author Regina posted April 26th 2010. 9:27 pm Reply

    I find it difficult to believe that RE/MAX has nothing better to do than go after you… I mean have they nothing better to do???!!!!! I thought we lived in America – perhaps I am misinformed – you didn’t infringe on their stupid balloon trademark…

    So like – what – no other agent in the USA is permitted to use the colors blue or red!!??? Are you serious!!!!!!!!!!????????????

    Perhaps you can counter sue them for harassment. Better yet, you should design a logo for your company with a family in a house being carried up in a balloon!

    Keep me posted – this really got me incensed… good luck and don’t ever give in!

  48. author Mike Freenor posted April 26th 2010. 9:30 pm Reply

    Matt:

    I read with interest the above article and I got to thinking. So I looked up Fonville Morisey here in Raleigh and I’ll be damned there sign is red, over white over blue. They are a Long and Foster Company, no small guy in the school yard, but I don’t see Re Max bullying them. And then I thought, I used to work for Realty Executives and I’ll be damned if there sign isn’t red over white over blue. And if I remember my history correctly the guys that started Re/Max did so after they broke away from Realty Executives in a dispute. I guess in their anger when they left Realty Executives they only took the red, white and blue crayons.

    I am now with Allison James Estates and Homes and our sign is primarily green. I hope Hess Oil Company doesn’t come after us because they own the green crayon.

    Sincerely,

    Mike Freenor
    Broker
    Allison James Estates and Homes NC

  49. author Bill Barnes posted April 26th 2010. 9:32 pm Reply

    Matt:

    I always thought red, white and blue belonged to America, their our colors. I didn’t know Re/Max purchased our country.

    William Barnes, REALTOR®
    ABR, CCSS, CLSS, GRI, SFR, MRE
    Designated Broker
    Member Arizona Professional Standards Committee

  50. author sarah posted April 26th 2010. 9:33 pm Reply

    GOOD FOR YOU I hope you win, they are a HORRIBLE company in my opinion! 🙂
    I hope crayola doesn’t sue me for using blue in my sign.

  51. author Margaret Rome posted April 26th 2010. 9:35 pm Reply

    Uh oh Matt,

    My sign has red and white on it…do you think I need to worry. BTW, do you know Fred Carver?

    Keep us posted.

    Margaret Rome
    HomeRome Realty

  52. author Benny Yee posted April 26th 2010. 9:36 pm Reply

    Hi Matt,

    It’s a ridiculous accusation from Re/Max. They don’t have an exclusive right on any 3 colored signs or 4 colored signs for that matter so long as your signs don’t look alike. Your sign and Re/Max sign are different and it does not create confusion to anyone. As a real estate professional for more than 45 years, I have not yet heard of anything like this happened.

    Matt, don’t give in and Re/Max will not seek legal action against you. They don’t stand a chance in any court in America except may be in China or Cuba.

    Regards,

    Benny Yee
    Realtor

  53. author Wayne Martin posted April 26th 2010. 9:38 pm Reply

    Good for you! They are over thinking this and a proprietary claim to colors! I am a sole proprietor and may think of using red white and blue signs.

    Wayne M. Martin

  54. author Giovanni posted April 26th 2010. 9:39 pm Reply

    please continue to fight them, maybe the realtors that work there should think about this long and hard about who their company really is. So sad…..

  55. author Keith Whited posted April 26th 2010. 9:40 pm Reply

    On occasion, over time, I have clicked on the links I receive via email and have taken the time to read your writings.

    Each time I was left with the feeling, both by the style and content of your writing as well as by the photo that you have chosen to use; that you were an arrogant (no I won’t use that word) – let’s just say: know-it all who probably really didn’t know as much as he thought. This little tirade certainly shows that you know NOTHING of trademark law and reconfirms my other thoughts as well.

    You are going to LOSE!!!

    Why don’t you just start changing your signage rather than take yourself down a road that when all is said and done is going to make you look like an even bigger . . . . . . ?

    Yes – I’m a RE/MAX agent – so what?

    • author Matt Jones posted April 26th 2010. 9:48 pm Reply

      The lady (Re/Max agent) doth protest too much, methinks. Wow! I have taken untold hours to write and publish hundreds of free training articles, some of which you have read or you wouldn’t be on my mailing list, and you are so incensed by my arrogance that you wrote that? I’m sorry I’ve upset you. The fact is I’ve studied this trademark issue at length and am accordingly, willing to fight Re/Max’s over-reaching. I’m sorry if that upsets you.

  56. author Matt Jones posted April 26th 2010. 9:57 pm Reply

    Thank you guys for your overwhelming support! I am humbled. I am afraid that the outpouring of comments practically blew up my blog! Over 60 comments in four hours! Unbelievable. I appreciate your letting me know you thoughts.

    Actually, the comments fall into three categories:

    1. Overwhelmingly, support for our position.
    2. Those who support me but are afraid for me.
    3. Re/Max agents who understandably side with Re/Max.

    I want to sincerely thank you for taking your valuable time to weigh in, whether we agree or not.

    Matt

  57. author Carolyn Wiggins posted April 26th 2010. 10:00 pm Reply

    I cannot believe they are fussing over that sign. What is next? It does not resemble enough to fight over.

    Carolyn Wiggins
    Executive Choice Realty

  58. author Richard M. Sander posted April 26th 2010. 10:01 pm Reply

    Great response, Matt. For the record, I asked my nine and eleven year old boys to look at the two signs and there was no confusion or hesitation whatsoever. If they cough up the dough, you might consider donating part of it to the National Federation of the Blind?

  59. author Richard M. Sander posted April 26th 2010. 10:02 pm Reply

    Great response, Matt. For the record, I asked my nine and eleven year old boys to look at the two signs and there was no confusion or hesitation whatsoever. If they cough up the dough, you might consider donating part of it to the National Federation of the Blind?

    All the best,

    Richard M. Sander
    Sales Manager
    Price & Company Realty
    Myrtle Beach, SC

  60. author Rennie Gabriel posted April 26th 2010. 10:02 pm Reply

    Hi Matt, I usually ignore your emails, but this one got my attention. I carefully studied the two signs hoping to see how they were both RE/Max, but I didn’t carefully read the request: “choose the RE/Max sign” Only the one on the left with their balloon logo looked like RE/Max. Are they going to sue the US Government too for using Red White and Blue on the flag? This is just too silly. I’ll read their bully letter and your reply next. Oh by the way, I am not a Realtor, but a consumer.

  61. author Joan Berry Morris posted April 26th 2010. 10:20 pm Reply

    Good luck to you. Maybe you’ll be the “South Butt” of real estate.

  62. author Tina posted April 26th 2010. 10:59 pm Reply

    You’d think they would be more concerned that we over here at Keller Williams have taken their spot as 3rd Largest Real Estate Company in the nation but hey I guess they have to pick their fights! Good luck and keep posting!

  63. author BRANDI CANCELLIERI posted April 26th 2010. 11:38 pm Reply

    Years ago there was a company in Las Vegas, NV that had a red, white, and blue logo. They had had this for aver 10 years. The Company used the Red for the with a large V and then the rest of the first name in smaller letters. The White for a Large R and the rest ealty in smaller letters. The blue for a large G and the rest in roup in smaller letters. The company was forced by Remax to change their logo because of the red, white and blue order. I think this was very WRONG. We live in America which our flag is red, white and blue. Should they change because Remax does not want anyone to use these colors in that order. Good for you for not letting the bully get away with this. I just wish the Broker of the other company were alive to see your fighting back!

  64. author Becky Smith posted April 26th 2010. 11:49 pm Reply

    I remember when ReMax first started. There were many red, white, blue signs out there for real estate companies in Florida at that time and in Virginia where I was a realtor. They didn’t seem to have a problem with any company having those colors then so what’s there problem now. ReMax over charges there agents in our area to work for them.

    Rebecca

  65. author Brian Taylor posted April 27th 2010. 12:34 am Reply

    It is a shame we Canadians don’t disallow the red white and blue giant from taking our red and white Canadian dollars. Wondering how Americans would feel if 60% of there realtors sent billions to Canada in franchise fees.
    Anyways, Re/max is infringing on all your American flags rights-do they pay royalties for that? or do they just feel they claimed these colours first in a Real estate setting.
    I am not confused who is who or would complain if I was a Re/max rep. They are just bullies.
    This is why I no longer work with Re/max-way to full of themselves and they did nothing for me!

    GL,Brian

  66. author Mona posted April 27th 2010. 1:15 am Reply

    Re-max does not own The Red, White and Blue. Re-max needs to get over themselves. They are NOT ‘Up Above the Crowd’. Ego does not serve Anyone. Re-max agents need s to get a grip and get educated. They are the lease up to date agents on the street.

  67. author Carolyn Wiggins posted April 27th 2010. 5:13 am Reply

    I am a Broker. I know the trials of large companies. Hang in; they do not own the real estate business.

    Please check out that website I sent; you will be glad you did.

    Thanks,

    “Executive Choice is the Best Choice”
    Carolyn Wiggins, Owner/BIC

  68. author Chris Meyer posted April 27th 2010. 9:26 am Reply

    I guess that RE/MAX corporate does not know PMS colors. They must have PMS. How many other major companies like Coldwell Banker will go after smaller compaies over colors. I wonder if GM will force Ford to use a different color on one of their trucks?

  69. author Red Wood posted April 27th 2010. 10:04 am Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Yes Re/Max can make you change your signs. The colors and the order of the colors are copy written. Simple just change the order of the colors. Do the Blue on top and the red on the bottom.

    • author Matt Jones posted April 27th 2010. 10:08 am Reply

      Thanks for reading and for your comment. Actually, Re/Max does have a very narrow trademark on their specific use of red-over-white-over-blue, and it is not a blanket trademark over all uses as they would like to have the world believe. Read the trademark documents and you will see what I’m talking about. I’m not in love with our clearly different design, but if they want me to change it, they will have to pay me to do it or meet me in court.

  70. author Jim Nelson, Jr posted April 27th 2010. 11:01 am Reply

    I am with RE/MAX so maybe a little biased on this subject. I do hate when a big company tries to bully an individual but I don’t think this is the case here. Many of the comments on this blog indicate that RE/MAX is trying to say they own the colors red, white and blue. That is not the case! However, they have spent millions and millions of dollars creating and promoting their signs and trademark. Why should they let individual companies use the same colors in the same order. Your sign DOES look like a RE/MAX sign! You don’t think consumers are confused by this? Put your sign on the side of the road and then stop twenty people who passed the sign and ask them which company’s sign was there and at least ten of them will say “RE/MAX”.

    • author Matt Jones posted April 27th 2010. 11:14 am Reply

      Jim,

      Thanks for the comment. I’m glad to see a Re/Max agent who’s not ready to fight over this post! The truth is that Re/Max does have a trademark of their very specific use of red-over-white-over-blue in a yard sign. They do not have a trademark over every conceivable use of red-over-white-over-blue in a yard sign, and they are trying to expand their defacto trademark by intimidating smaller companies into abandoning their own legitimate uses of two of the three primary colors.

      I’m not in love with our company’s yard sign design but it will cost me money to change them. If Re/Max feels that strongly about it, they can write me a check and I will voluntarily change the sign design. But I haven’t violated their trademark… just their own self serving interpretation and expansion of that mark.

      Again, thank you for your comment. I’d be willing to help you conduct an independent drive-by test as you suggest. The standard in enforcing a trademark is likelihood of confusion, and the best argument for likelihood is real cases of confusion.

  71. author G Porter Shaw posted April 27th 2010. 11:03 am Reply

    Continue to defend your beliefs. Prudential my franchise, can’t control blue + white nor Coldwell, and Re/Max can’t have exclusive rights to red white and blue.

    Wish I could attend the NC class but conflicts happen. Best of luck!

  72. author Steve Hueter posted April 27th 2010. 12:15 pm Reply

    I own a small brokerage that use the colors green, gold, and black over white. Just wanted everyone to know that I got dibs on this color scheme. If you don’t like it I will hire the RE/MAX legal counsel.

    Are you f***ing kidding!! Hopefully this is being pursued in a court that will allow the winner to recoup their attorney fees.

  73. author Wally Neal posted April 27th 2010. 12:50 pm Reply

    FYI … I agree that RE/MAX is silly regarding the red/white/blue sequence top-to-bottom, but be advised … they have previously WON a law suite on exactly this issue. I couldn’t believe it, but they did.

    • author Matt Jones posted April 27th 2010. 12:57 pm Reply

      Thanks for your comment. You are correct in that they have successfully litigated a trademark infringement lawsuit. The sign design of that company was clearly much closer to the Re/Max design. If you read the actual trademark documents, they have a very specific drawing which depicts equal parts of red-over-white-over-blue and they did receive a trademark on that. Their expansion of that limited trademark to include all sign designs that include red-over-white-over-blue is a reach. Nevertheless, I’m willing to change my design if they want to pick up the bill, but since I’m not infringing on their trademark, I have no intention of spending my money to do it. Thanks again for your comment.

  74. author Anne Hartigan posted April 27th 2010. 1:46 pm Reply

    I”ve been a real estate broker over 20 years (just about retired) Re/Max has just never made its mark. This is all about money and trying to stay in business. There is a world of difference in the two signs. Re/Max, in its corporate stupidity, is saying people are not READING the signs. The public is READING the signs. They apparently are not calling Re/Max. This has nothing to do with colors. A loose trademark is not a patent. The RED WHITE and BLUE belongs with love and affection to the United States of America and its people. People do desperate things in desperate times. Don’t do a thing. The burden of proof is on Re/Max. I’m in New York. I could say more, but I won’t. They have some very good agents, but they charge them for every piece of paper they use. I sympathize this country is going through bad times, but sometimes you have to look into yourself and re-evaluate. All the best.

  75. author Lydia posted April 27th 2010. 2:44 pm Reply

    I used to work for ReMax, I know firsthand what it is to be the target of their intimidation process.
    My dream was…. get this….”to one day own my own Remax Office”. Well, I snapped out of that one real quick because I do not want to be part of a franchise (such as Remax), and I think it is important for people to know that there are bad agents in large franchise, but there are also very many experienced, knowledgeable good independent agents and brokers. The franchise name does not make a good agent or broker. I am an independent broker, but to be on SAFE SIDE, I created my signs in PURPLE!!!!!!

    Lydia

  76. author Diane Sandstrom posted April 27th 2010. 6:30 pm Reply

    Matt,
    Interesting. I am a former RE/Max Agent (fees just got way out of whack). I started in real estate in 1989 with a company called Edina Realty. We had red, white and blue signs before RE/Max even came to MN. Edina Realty changed their signs to all red with white lettering their ad dept said red was more noticeable and they were. Hang in there on your dispute they are losing agents left and right in MN. I am sure this is happening all around the US. Without the money from the agents they will run out of money for the legal fees.

  77. author Paul posted April 28th 2010. 12:14 am Reply

    I’d ordinarily not comment, but I just can’t resist. I am a former Realtor (not ReMax) who returned to my former career in Corporate Accounting (Controller level). You are correct – US Trademark law is very strict and narrowly defined.

    That said, the theory they will use is likely one of damage to their brand due to confusion in the public (as many people have alluded). This is a tort, rather than a suit. I’ve worked for two major (Fortune 500) companies who defended their trademarks, service marks, and branding “vigorously”. We rarely went to court. The intent is to spend you into the ground before the action comes up for litigation.

    A major corporation considers any inroads into their service marks as a dilution of brand (quite correctly). Remember when “Xerox” was a company, and not a copy, and when “Kleenex” was a brand, not a facial tissue. Depending on how long you’ve used your signs, you may be able to show that their actions constitute an unwarranted “taking” of your brand recognition and service marks, which uses this exact same theory. That said, they are looking at this from a National level, and thus have more skin in the game and more willingness to write the significant checks involved.

    Realize that each hour of law firm time you burn on this is the equivalent of perhaps 5-10 signs (you need the expensive folks) not counting your personal time, and it quickly becomes apparent that the way to proceed is not a legal gunfight, unless you can bring a class action for constraint of trade with others similarly situated. Also, Re/Max doesn’t need bad press any more than you do. A press release to your local news outlets would up the ante, and show your willingness to proceed – BUT based on the current public perception of Real Estate professionals, can you afford the potential ill-will blowing back onto your business?

    They will most likely proceed under the aegis of your local board rules, or even the National Association of Realtors rather than litigate under the trademark theory, as the rules are much less sharply defined. (I’m not an attorney, but have worked closely with them for years, including trademark issues).

    Notice that I’ve not addressed the question of right / wrong, or justified / unjustified.

    Respectfully, my advice is to not draw this into a “white hat / black hat” confrontation, but to take the avenue which provides the most net benefit for your BUSINESS. That business is Real Estate, not advertising (though it’s quite easy to conflate the two). I suspect that this is a rabbit hole that you will spend a lot of money going down, and your end result may well be disappointing. You may wish to settle with neither side admitting wrongdoing, and get back to the business of your business. Otherwise the only guarantee is that both the law firms involved will win.

    • author Matt Jones posted April 28th 2010. 3:27 am Reply

      Very well said, Paul. I have no intention of spending tons on legals. However, as you said, the burden of making the case is theirs. I have clearly not violated their sacred marks (forgetting about how overly wide they already are). It will cost them a lot to bring a trademark action and I am willing to voluntarily change the signs… just not willing to pay the bill to do it. If they feel strongly, they can write me a check. Thanks for your analysis. I think you really are a lawyer!

  78. author Nick Whiteside posted April 28th 2010. 3:02 am Reply

    Mr. Jones:

    From a former REM/AX agent in good standing who voluntarily moved to another company,
    I can only say…”RIGHT ON!!!”. Even a monkey would NOT be confused between the two signs.
    I have no ax to grind with REM/AX. I just think they are shooting themselves in the foot.

    Nick Whiteside
    Milwaukee, WI

  79. author Ann Hartigan posted April 28th 2010. 3:11 am Reply

    Standing up to any bully is a moral duty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  80. author CJ Sleppy posted April 28th 2010. 3:13 am Reply

    Quite frankly, your sign is more likely to be confused with ForSaleByOwner.com signs than Re/Max.

    Actually, I think it would be to your advantage to move the blue band to the top (eye-catching but not prevalent) since people already know the house is for sale if the sign is posted. Also, it highlights the red “roof” part of the design so it provides a “double punch” of color to grab attention.

    The red band is very attention-grabbing. Using the more heavily weighted color at the bottom guides the viewer’s eye from the attractive color combination at the top down through the center section (identifying the company) and finally focuses their attention with the all important agent information at the bottom. This ensures the the maximum “bang for your buck”.

    It would be far better, from a design and psychological perspective, to highlight the important company and agent contact information by using the red and white combination there. Company and agent contact information is the primary value of the sign (and the design).

    Why not use the franchise paranoia to your benefit and let them pay for the design update that will probably strengthen your position in the marketplace and make you a stronger competition factor (a bigger thorn in their sides) than you may have been if you had retained the old design and not had the valuable exposure they provided to you.

    There is also an awesome advertising “blitz” opportunity here! It does inspire my imagination – there are some really fun things you could do for promotion!

    Best wishes as you move forward with your branding adventure!

    Sincerely,
    C J Sleppy
    Cynthia J. Sleppy Real Estate
    Gresham, OR 97080

    • author Matt Jones posted April 28th 2010. 3:19 am Reply

      Cynthia,

      Thank you for your insightful post. You make many good points. I agree that our current design can be improved upon. However, this is not a great time, financially, to embark on a major redesign project without any other reason than a whim of Re/Max. If they feel strongly about it, they can pay me to change as I told them in my letter. I am not in violation of their trademark — just their attempt to extend that mark to a more generic red-over-white-over-blue interpretation of their mark. Thanks again.

  81. author Marti Eveleigh posted April 28th 2010. 8:00 am Reply

    RE/MAX is not being a bully, they have worked and earned their stripes. Get an imagination and make your sign without coping theirs!! I work for RE/MAX and am tired of the cut rates trying to copy and act like the big dogs. Get your own sign design!

    Marti Eveleigh
    REMAX WIMBERLEY,REALTORS

    • author Matt Jones posted April 28th 2010. 8:21 am Reply

      Marti,

      I have to take exception to your comment. While I don’t in any way deny that Re/Max has worked hard and been very successful, they are now trying to expand upon their legitimate trademark by claiming all uses of red-over-white-over-blue. The fact is that one of the top design firms in the nation designed our logo, and we also legitimately chose to use red and blue for colors. Think about it — there are only three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) and only two of them contrast well on a white sign.

      Frankly, Marti, our company wants to distance itself from Re/Max and all the other national brands and accordingly our sign looks very dissimilar to all of them. What seems interesting to me is that if you read the tone of the nearly 100 other comments, you will find that the only ones who are consistently rude and arrogant are you and your fellow Re/Max agents. I wonder why that is? You feeling defensive because Re/Max is acting like a bully?

  82. author Dayton Schrader posted April 28th 2010. 12:39 pm Reply

    Matt,

    It is interesting that you want to make a living off agents and yet have so little respect for the industry or the brands that paved the way for you to live the life you enjoy.

    RE/MAX is all caps…you should respect the brand even if you dispute its validity. Your “hot shot” marketing agency should understand trademark infringement even if you do not. I am sure that they would vigorously defend Advil or any of their other brands, trademarks or logos.

    RE/MAX has vigorously defended its brand for 35 years and the case law supporting that it enormous. I hope your attorney factored that into their retainer.

    If you want to sell real estate…knock yourself out. It you want to sell to Realtors you might want to stay neutral and not insult or alienate your best customers. RE/MAX agents are the most experienced and educated agents as well as the biggest producers. Who do you think actually has the money to buy your stuff or the interest in investing in improving their business?

    I have been with RE/MAX for 28 years as an agent, broker and owner. I am very proud of my company and its commitment to the industry and the charities we support. Before you start throwing rocks, you better consider your target.

    DAYTON L. SCHRADER
    ABR,ABRM,CCIM,CRB,CRP,CRS
    Licensed Texas Real Estate Broker

    • author Matt Jones posted April 28th 2010. 4:07 pm Reply

      Dayton,

      You comment is outrageous on so many levels, I hardly know where to begin. First, in true Re/Max (oops… RE/MAX) form you start of by insulting me and acting superior. I’m not surprised — in fact I’m rather accustomed to it. You are incorrect, however. I do respect the RE/MAX brand and its validity. They’ve worked hard, as have we, at building and differentiating their brand. Both brands legally hold trademark protection.

      The idea that RE/MAX can assert, to the exclusion of another nationally trademarked brand, the broad and non-specific use of red-over-white-over-blue, and not their legally trademarked limited use of those colors, is arguable to say the least. And that is what I am doing — arguing their wild and over-reaching interpretation of their own limited trademark.

      You don’t know me nor where I earn my living. I do sell real estate, and own and manage my own brokerage, just like you do. And yes, the fact is that practicing real estate agents — some of them RE/MAX agents — owe me delinquent accounts receivable for software licensing in excess of $2 million, money I will likely never see. Perhaps the reason you would like to see me remain neutral and not fight to protect my own rights under the law is because you fear the tenuous position of your franchise. It seems their agents are very quick to “go to guns” to protect them. Are they really in need of all that spirited support? One begins to wonder.

      Finally, we all have our charities, and I’m glad RE/MAX has theirs. However, giving money to good causes doesn’t make their bullying any less-bad behavior, in my humble opinion. Maybe in the grand scheme of things, it helps them sleep at night. The fact is, even though our company is not in violation of RE/MAX’s very specific and limited trademarks, we have offered to voluntarily change our signs if they will simply cover the cost of that change. If you had bothered to read the documents before scolding me, you would know that.

  83. author Angela posted April 28th 2010. 1:17 pm Reply

    I love a good debate, but one has to wonder if this is a cost effective fight. At the end of the court case, what is the win and what was the expense, for both parties. Certainly any company owner can appreciate the time, the expense and the heart goes into designing logos and signs. Maybe instead of spending resources litigating, they would consider spending that money to swap out the signs for a new design or just some color variations. It’s not a decision that would make either party happy, but it may be a resolution that is palatable so that everyone can get back to selling homes. Life is a lot about choosing our battles, not that this battle isn’t worthwhile, but is it worthwhile on your dime.

  84. author Nichol Ris posted April 28th 2010. 1:26 pm Reply

    Matt I hope you go public with this, I think the whole US would agree with you the colors red white and blue is not a trademark you can own. They will be publicly humiliated and put in the limelight for the petty bully’s that they are. I truly believe they are threatend by you and your potential growth over them. It would absolutely benefit your growth to go Times front page cover public, everyone will know who you are and we all already know who they are, this will just confirm there not so wise business ethics and character.

  85. author Allan Orashan posted April 28th 2010. 2:30 pm Reply

    Red, white and blue are generic colors. The signs look different. However, if I were a prospective buyer and drove past the sign at 40 miles per hour, only noticed the colors and confused the sign with a RE/MAX sign I would probably call RE/MAX to inquire. Why are they complaining?

    Allan Orashan
    Century 21 Wilbur Realty

  86. author Clay Moncrief posted April 28th 2010. 6:01 pm Reply

    To me, your sign looks like a bit of Americana – good ole red, white and blue. No way would I confuse it with a RE/MAX sign, nor would anyone else with a lick of common sense.

    Unfortunately, our so called “justice system” often sides with big business over individual rights and freedoms. I think you have a tough fight on your hands and I wish you all the best in prevailing.

  87. author Art posted April 28th 2010. 8:38 pm Reply

    Keep up the good fight. I guess they lay claim to red white and blue. Will they come after the flag next? Their motto is “if you can not impress your client with intelligence then baffle them with Bullshit!”

  88. author John posted April 29th 2010. 3:00 pm Reply

    While you definitely have a right to be able to fight the accusation against you, to me some of your comments here seem a bit unprofessional especially when some of your readers are RE/MAX agents. It seems that you have made any RE/MAX agent out to be an enemy. Many of your comments back to RE/MAX Agents specifically seem to me very inappropriate and doesn’t bode well on your reputation. Im sorry to say but I think you may have lost at least one reader..

    • author Matt Jones posted April 29th 2010. 3:43 pm Reply

      Hi John,

      If I’ve made it sound as though all RE/MAX agents are my enemy, I’m sorry, they aren’t. But, if you take the time to read the over 100 comments, the only ones taking up for RE/MAX corporate office’s ridiculous, and over-reaching position are RE/MAX agents. I am certainly not against all of them.

      But here is where it crosses the line for me. When they don’t discuss the actual issue but make blanket assertions that RE/MAX has all the best agents, and everyone else is a wanna-be, I take exception to that arrogant attitude. When they disregard our company’s right to our own trademark, I take exception to that. When they insist on being insulting to the rest of the real estate world, I have a problem with that.

      Again, not all RE/MAX agents, but certainly those with that attitude. Frankly, I am okay with people disagreeing with me, and I appreciate hearty and spirited debate, but the overly defensive and arrogant comments from many of the RE/MAX agents is appalling and offensive to me. If it came across that I was painting all RE/MAX agents with that broad brush, that was certainly not my intention and I apologize.

  89. author Dana Trumann posted April 29th 2010. 6:13 pm Reply

    Hi Matt

    Why don’t you sponsor a longest putt competition? That should push them over the edge.

    Dana

  90. author Max V posted April 30th 2010. 1:26 pm Reply

    Read the demand letter- unbelievable that Remax thinks they can own this country’s basic colors and in the order everyone says them… red white & blue. I see this only as another example of corporate greed and power that’s going to kill this country soon if we can’t get a lid on it!

    I just started my own real estate company this year and personally designed our yard signs, along with help from our local FastSigns. My colors are blue and white too and wanted to use red, but didn’t like the way it looked- a great standout color, but also a little too much in your face for my taste. Matt is absolutely correct in that only a few basic colors are used on yard signs (just look around your own town) and these sign places only have so many “basic” colors to choose from. More important though, is that the color bars going across the sign are WAY more critical overall (for signage purposes), because text by itself without being set in a color bar, often gets lost on the sign… color bars also act as attention grabbers. (I learned these rules after printing my first signs with only a bottom blue bar). And shades of red are probably the biggest attention grabbing colors of all, so I’m sorry but ‘any shade of red’ (reds, yellows, oranges, etc) is too generic to use as a trademark descriptor.

    Other things I learned is that the public cannot read most font while driving by a sign at 25 mph. Surprisingly, more than 5% of the population is also color blind to a varying degree! My elderly mother was the first one to tell me that shapes and first glance look is how people, over time, begin to associate signage with a specific realty company- not so much with what the sign says. Now LET’S BE FAIR everyone- driving down the street half a block away, looking at the two signs side-by-side, the sizes of the color bars are OBVIOUSLY different. As you get closer, one has a balloon and the other has a house outline over text. End of story and you’d have to be an advocate for Remax to think anything more.

    Without reading the registered trademark, it looks like Remax sign mark is nearly equal size color bars- with a specific RGB color red, over white, over a specific RGB color blue, with a balloon having identical RGB colors in identical order as sign colors, with specific balloon placement over the bars. The combination of these is clearly the mark and I’d bet a $100 bucks that Remax demands a certain RGB color be used for all print & signage world-wide! (not just any shade of red or blue)

    I also researched trademark law years ago and too broad of a description becomes too generic- difficult to defend. Other than Remax being able to outspend you in court, I find it highly unlikely such basic colors as ANY color red, over white, over ANY color blue AND in any size or shape… can be defended. Just look around your own town; pretty hard to find realty signs that don’t use some sort of red, white and blue in them and to be fair, there are only so many ways to mix the design up in trying to avoid looking like another local realty company.

    I think it comes down to this… who in their right mind wants to be confused with another realty company- having buyers call REMAX about your listing instead of calling YOUR company! Guaranteed, if Favorite Agent thought there would be confusion in the market place- they would’ve changed it themselves! And with all the brokers going out on their own this year… Remax should be thankful if someone mistakes a sign and calls them by mistake (say, do they owe a referral in that case?). All of it aside… unreasonable people make the rest of us shine bright. Have a sunny day Matt! Maximum

    • author Matt Jones posted April 30th 2010. 2:37 pm Reply

      Thanks Max for your long and thoughtful comment. I completely agree! Good luck with your new company.

      Matt

  91. author Scott Weber posted May 12th 2010. 12:35 am Reply

    Who am I to say what legal rights one has reserved, registered or trademarked for the placement of specific colors when used on signage for a specific industry. But I’m curious to find out the end result. Naturally my support goes behind the little guy and I believe the RE/MAX claim is pathetic. I hope your getting some good free exposure and press time out of this!!!

  92. author Charles Esters posted May 25th 2010. 9:08 am Reply

    What?! Read the sign. It says Favorite Agent and Re/Max has the balloon on theirs. The shade of blue is also different.Someone from Re/Max needs glasses.

  93. author Benjamin Tan posted May 27th 2010. 2:08 pm Reply

    This is the first time for me to write a comment on a blog. I would say that The whole legal department of Re/Max has to be abolished for wanting to bully a start up company, just because they have a trademark on red, white, and blue. Maybe they should also name President Obama and the Federal Government as defendants too, for using red, white, and blue on the American flag. Then they will really have a very deep pocket defendant.

    With all this nonsense, they apparently forgot that Re/Max is known for their HOT AIR BALLOON! (QUICK, SOMEBODY, GO GET A PATENT FOR THE USE OF THE HOT AIR BALLOON LOGO BEFORE THEY DO.) I GUESS THEY ARE RUNNING OUT OF HOT AIR FOR THEIR BALLOON!

    Re/Max logo is the hot air balloon. That is what the ordinary people associate their company to… not the red, white, and blue signs. Their legal department has to find something better to do to earn their salt.

  94. author Pat Lord posted June 3rd 2010. 9:23 pm Reply

    We have sued RE/MAX for their bullying too! They attempted to shut our re/max 3 offices down in Lynnwood, WA. We were among the only brokerages paying our bills in full each month! In my opinion, they were trying to steal my entire company to divert them to their corporate offices. In doing this, they would get the profits our company would have made.

    Of course, being a RE/MAX franchise has not been a money maker for many many years for most! That franchise became a big loser for us and we are now Champions Real Estate Services. I’m happy to talk to anyone about what we believe is RE/MAX’s ruthless practices and our accusations against them. We have video tapes and audio tapes of this event… Oh, did I mention voice mails too! You can determine for yourself, who the bad guys are!

    • author Matt Jones posted June 4th 2010. 5:05 am Reply

      Hi Pat,

      Thanks for weighing in. I haven’t heard any more from RE/MAX in over a month. Maybe they’ve lost interest. If I am forced to go to court with them I may call you for information showing a pattern. Thanks for reading and for commenting.

  95. author New Developments in RE/MAX Trademark Case | NewsGeni.us posted September 2nd 2010. 5:06 pm Reply

    […] 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 […]

  96. author RE/MAX Bullying Small Companies? | NewsGeni.us posted September 14th 2010. 2:36 pm Reply

    […] To voice your opinion or read more about this story, visit BlogMattBlog. […]

  97. author The Re/Max Saga Continues… | Blog, Matt. Blog! posted March 19th 2012. 10:30 am Reply

    […] something.  Was I being unreasonable in defending our company’s own yard sign design?  I wrote an article and another followup asking for your feedback.  And did you ever give it.  Never, in the history […]

  98. author Okay Re/Max… Enough is Enough! | Blog, Matt. Blog! posted November 6th 2012. 12:11 pm Reply

    […] please feel free to read the entire saga at the following locations on my blog: Part 1  |  Part 2  |  Part 3  To date, I have received four separate “final notices” from both Re/Max legal […]

Leave a Comment!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *