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RISMEDIA, March 30, 2010—Fifteen leading multiple listing services (MLSs) in the U.S. have formed the MLS Domains Association, a non-profit national association created to obtain, manage and promote the orderly use of the ‘.MLS’ top-level domain (TLD) on the Internet. The Association will apply late in 2010 to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) under ICANN’s new gTLD process. If successful, MLSs will be able to obtain domains such as Maine.MLS, Chicago.MLS, etc.

“For years, MLSs and Realtor Associations have objected to businesses referring to themselves as ‘MLSs’ in their marketing, when in fact they are not MLSs,” said Bob Bemis, interim President of the Association and CEO of the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service. Under United States trademark law, the term “multiple listing service” is generic; MLSs cannot claim exclusive use of it. “Our goal is to create a place, the .MLS top-level domain, where the websites actually belong to MLSs, not to other types of business,” he said.

The Association’s leaders plan for the .MLS TLD to deliver the following benefits:
-Unique location of MLS data on the Internet; Key geographical second-level domains (SLDs) will be available to MLSs; and better search engine ranking for MLS public websites.

According to some search engine optimization experts, sites at .MLS domains may receive higher rankings if consumers search for “MLS” on search engines. For example, a search for “new jersey mls” on Google would likely rank a site at “newjersey.mls” high in the results. Consumers might be more prone to select search results that have .MLS TLDs because consumers may believe they will provide more reliable information.

“The Association looks forward to inviting all MLSs to join,” said Brian Larson, President of Larson/Sobotka Business Advisors, a consulting firm engaged by the founding MLSs to create the business plan for the Association and to guide it through its early operations. “For the next few weeks,” he said, “the current leaders will be working on policies relating to membership, domain registration, and dispute resolution that the Association needs to sort out before opening the doors wide.” Membership in the association will be limited to real estate multiple listing services, including broker-owned services not affiliated with the National Association of Realtors, and will be generally available later in April 2010.

For more information, visit www.MLSDomains.org.

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