RE/MAX Prevails in Trademark Infringement Suit

RE/MAX International Inc. v. Trend Setter LLC U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas

January 1, 2010

A brokerage whose trademarked logo involved a rectangular design with red, white, and blue horizontal stripes was ordered to cancel its use of the logo because it stood to be confused with the trademarked logo of RE/MAX International Inc.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas said the color scheme used by Trend Setter Realty, with offices in Houston and San Antonio, was identical to that of RE/MAX’s symbol. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the two companies offer identical services, promote their services in similar ways, and compete for the same customers.

Supporting a contention by RE/MAX that the marks constituted infringement, the court said the RE/MAX marks had strong recognition for the services connected with them and that there was circumstantial evidence that Trend Setter intended to have its materials resemble RE/MAX’s. The court pointed to an invoice on which the owner of the brokerage requested 10 signs with a "white background w/ R/M red and blue," with the "R/M" being shorthand for RE/MAX.

In support of its case, RE/MAX had commissioned a survey by a marketing professor that found evidence of actual confusion among the public between RE/MAX and the brokerage.

Based on all of the factors, the court determined that there was the likelihood of confusion between the two marks, so it ruled in RE/MAX’s favor and ordered cancellation of the mark.

Robert Freedman

Robert Freedman is the former director of multimedia communications at NAR.