Govt urged to protect agents from IP bullies

The Real Estate Institute of Australia has taken another shot at REA Group after a federal inquiry called for a review of intellectual property laws.

The final report of the Competition Policy Review recommended the Productivity Commission conduct an “overarching review of intellectual property”.

One of the focuses of this review would be competition policy issues in intellectual property arising from new developments in technology.

The report argued that disruptive digital technologies are good because they foster innovation, which in turn drives growth in living standards.

However, it also said that an appropriate balance needs to be struck between promoting innovation and encouraging widespread adoption of new systems.

“Excessive IP protection can not only discourage adoption of new technologies but also stifle innovation,” the report said.

REIA president Neville Sanders used the report to draw fresh attention to REA Group’s attempt to trademark the ‘realestate.com.au’ domain name.

“REIA has vigorously opposed this move and has asked the application be withdrawn since it could potentially jeopardise the use of generic terms by other businesses, competitor web portals and professional bodies,” he said.

“The experience of REIA is that big business trademark grabs not only have a major adverse impact on competition – particularly for small business – but they are deliberately used to reduce competition.”

An REA Group spokesperson told Real Estate Business that there was no reason for anyone to fear its attempt to trademark the ‘realestate.com.au’ domain name.

“We already have trademarks for our realestate.com.au logos, and the application to register the words ‘realestate.com.au’ is about recognising the reputation of our brand and protecting it from other parties who may try to mimic it,” the spokesperson said.

“The trademark will not mean we ‘own’ the words ‘real estate’. This application only extends to real estate portals and not real estate institute sites or real estate agency sites.”

[Related: Agents warned they could be sued by REA Group]

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