Marc Rasmussen vs. Sarasota Association of Realtors over thesarasotamls.com
If you saw the business section today in the Sarasota Herald Tribune you may have noticed the article about my fight with the Sarasota Association of Realtors over the domain name thesarasotamls.com. You can read the article here.
I never contacted Aaron Kessler, the reporter who wrote the story, about putting it in the story. He called me two weeks ago because he heard the buzz that was spreading across the internet like wildfire. The buzz started when Morgan Carey of RealEstateWebmasters.com wrote a blog post about my predicament - Sarasota Association of Realtors Domain Theft - Fight SAR MLS Support Our Members. This started the amazing support that I have received over the last 2 weeks. So far the blog post has been read 6,330 times by 4,165 visitors.
The support has been absolutely overwhelming. People from all over the country have called, emailed and written about my fight. I want to thank everyone that has contributed money or has supported me in this cause. Just to name a few - Morgan, Cal, Eric, Ryan, John, Joe and Colleen, Knox, Mert, Hector, Judy, Amy, Jeff, John, Mikey, Richard, Drew, Dennis, Brian, Carolyn, Jay, Kevin, Wayne, Eric, Julia, Vicki, Justin, Mike, Kevin, Jennifer, Justin, Bob, Paul, Jim, Calum, Gregg, Jennifer, Gary, Lou, Ryan, Paul, Tony, Ken, Mike, James, Chris, Steve, Jon, Jacqulyn, Jerry, Dorris, Derek, Paul, Alan, Joanne. These names are in no particular order and do apologize if I have missed anyone. Again, the support has been awesome! If there is anything that I can do for any of you don't hesitate to ask.
I think I have read just about every blog out there about this. I am not sure as there are so many of them. I have seen some inconsistencies so I wanted to clarify the facts in a timeline:
Summer of 2006 - I receive a letter from the Sarasota Association of Realtors asking me to shut down my website. I meet with Kathy Roberts, the CEO of Sarasota Association of Realtors, in person to discuss alternative options. Supposedly SAR received an anonymous email from someone complaining about my domain name. Kathy Roberts could not produce the email. She says that she is going to contact NAR to discuss the issue and get back to me. I never hear back from Kathy.
They wrote letters to 28 other Realtors in Sarasota who had MLS in their domain name.
Summer of 2007 - I receive a stronger letter from SAR stating that if I don’t take my website down that they were going to take further action.
The other 28 Realtors took down their websites. I spoke with several of them. Every Realtor I spoke with felt it was wrong what SAR was doing. They made the business decision to shut down their website because they did not make enough money from the site to justify the fight and aggravation.
April 2008 - Possible ethics hearing - No comment.
July 2008 - the SAR board of directors decide to pursue this issue further. My previous broker called Kathy Roberts at SAR to get documentation of any complaints about my website received by SAR. To this day they have provided no proof of any complaints.
July 30, 2008 - According to SunBiz.org, the SAR filed a trademark registration with the State of Florida.
August 27, 2008 - I lost the ICANN case to what I believe to be poor legal representation.
There was dissent in the arbitration decision:
September 2008 – Sarasota Association of Realtors joined the Mid-Florida MLS. There is no longer a central database of properties for sale referred to as the Sarasota MLS.
Let me know how you feel about it. Tell me if I am right or wrong and why. Write a comment, shoot me an email or call me at 941-812-6272. I would be interesting to hear what other Sarasota Realtors, Realtors around the country or anyone from the general public thinks of this.
If you think this is a crock and want to be heard, please email the Board of Directors of SAR. Here is the contact information for the board of directors - http://sarasotarealtors.com/about/directors.cfm
I think it is time to tell these Associations that they work for their members. Not the other way around.