The Canadian Real Estate Association has secured the rights to the top-level domain extension “.mls”, after bidding US$3.36 million in an auction held on December 17. The association emerged victorious after a bidding war with Afilias, a global registry company based in Dublin, Ireland.
CREA had earlier attempted to avoid having the rights go to auction by applying for a Legal Rights Objection against Afilias, a process open to parties who believe they have a legal right to the domain extension. CREA has registered Canadian certification marks for the letters MLS and the term “multiple listing service”, and is the exclusive licensee of the Realtor trademark, in Canada.
However this objection was unsuccessful, with a panel of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) ruling in favour of Afilias, noting “The Panel cannot see the justification for refusing to allow the Applicant [Afilias] to operate in every country because the Objector [CREA] has a certification mark for a generic term in Canada.”
CREA then proceeded with a Community Priority Evaluation for .mls, which can be made by organizations that have a unique “community” association with the domain. The rules require that at least 14 of 16 evaluation points must be met in order to be successful, but it was determined that CREA only met 11.
“This win is a great example of how CREA and NAR (National Association of Realtors) are working together for the benefit of our members. MLS systems are widely recognized by consumers as a go-to resource when they want to buy or sell real estate,” says CREA president Beth Crosbie in a news release. “Owning the .mls domain protects the integrity of what the MLS trademark signifies to Realtors, consumers and real estate boards and associations.”
“It was important to keep the .mls domain in the Realtor family, and NAR was happy to work with our Canadian cousins in this effort,” says NAR president Chris Polychron in the release. “As Realtors on both sides of the border, we all stand together to create order for real estate information on the Internet and give our members the online advantages they need to best serve their clients and customers.”
NAR also holds the rights to the .realtor and .realestate top-level domains. NAR has a marketing partnership with CREA that allows CREA members to use the .realtor domain.
NAR worked with CREA to secure the .mls domain through its wholly owned subsidiary, the Realtors Information Network. The MLS Domains Association, a non-profit group of 55 U.S. multiple listing services, was also in support of CREA’s application, says NAR.
CREA applied for the .mls top-level domain through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the entity that co-ordinates domains and IP addresses for the Internet.