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Trademark Protection & Competition

Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. What’s the difference?

While CREA owns a number of trademarks, the most prominent are the MLS® and REALTOR® family of marks.

The MLS® marks have been used since at least 1954. They don’t identify a computer database of real estate listings or any product related to how a database works. Instead, they describe the standard of service provided by members of the REALTOR® association community.

Similarly, the REALTOR® marks in Canada identify members based on the services they provide. Not every real estate agent is a REALTOR®. Only REALTORS® are members of CREA.

The MLS® Trademark and How It’s Used

The MLS® mark stands for Multiple Listing Service® and identifies professional services provided by REALTORS® to carry out the purchase and sale of real estate as part of a co-operative selling system. The MLS® mark can never be used as part of a business name, trade name or in any corporate branding.

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The REALTOR® Trademark Sets You Apart

The REALTOR® trademarks are used to identify real estate services provided by brokers and salespersons who are members of CREA, who accept and respect a strict Code of Ethics, and are required to meet professional standards of business practice, which is the consumer’s assurance of integrity.

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More on CREA’s Trademarks

By following the form and context rules for the REALTOR® and MLS® trademarks, you help maintain their value and protect them from becoming generic. View our trademark resources on REALTOR Link® to learn more.


CREA and its member boards and associations support a competitive marketplace. Boards and Associations must adhere to the Principles of Competition which were adopted in 1999.

Commission rates or fees that members charge for services offered to the public, and the division of those fees among cooperating members, are solely the choice of those providing the services.

A brokerage may select its own business model and offer a variety of services, e.g. exclusive, open, mere posting of MLS® listings, etc. Boards and real estate associations accept MLS® listings regardless of the price, commission rates or fees, or the division thereof.

Advertising by members and non-members is subject to the discretion of the individual, as long as it is honest and lawful and not otherwise restricted by the seller. We encourage creative, competitive choices in the services advertised to the public.

Broker members, their salespersons and non-members are able to determine the nature of their business relationships among themselves. With regard to board and association membership, members may choose for themselves to work full or part time, as long as they remain available to serve the public on a regular basis, and provided provincial enabling legislation does not otherwise authorize limiting such choice.

All members are required to meet uniform and reasonable financial and educational standards, and standards of competence, integrity and character necessary to serve the public.

Member boards and associations of the Canadian Real Estate Association support free and open competition. We believe in the principles embodied in the Competition Act of Canada.

Read CREA's Pledge of Competition

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