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The Ritbook.com Trademark Case - Rochester Institute of Technology's Legal Battle With Ritbook.com

The Ritbook.com (now BookMaid.com) Trademark Case

On April 3, 2007, the creator of Ritbook.com, Dan Leveille, received a nasty cease and desist letter from RIT's Chief Legal Officer threatening to take legal action and refering Dan to the RIT Center for Student Conduct. This case has been on WHAM 13 News and in RIT's Reporter Magazine. The case has finally been concluded. Read the most recent updates below:

July 16   Case Update

RIT to Grant BookMaid Royalty-Free License to RIT Trade Names

RIT's new president, William Destler, has reviewed BookMaid.com and the legal issues regarding it. He's decided to turn around this situation. He asked Mary Beth Cooper to call me (Dan Leveille). We discussed the following:

July 1   Case Update

The Book Maid

Ritbook Closes, BookMaid Revealed

Ritbook.com has officially closed.
BookMaid.com has been revealed.

Bookmaid will be an exciting new website very similar to Ritbook - the same general idea with more features and a sexy new look.

The site is planned to be open this Fall.

June 18   Case Update

My Response to the June 15 Email

From:  Dan Leveille <drl4193@rit.edu>
To:  Bobby Colon <racgla@rit.edu>
Cc:  Mary Beth Cooper <mbcvsa@rit.edu>, William Destler <bill.destler@rit.edu>
Date:  Jun 18, 2007 8:27 PM
Subject:  Re: Meeting

Mr. Colon,

To start off, I would like to clarify that I am carbon copying this email to Mary Beth Cooper because she was originally supposed to be carbon copied into any emails between you and I, which you failed to do. I want to ensure that Dr. Cooper is aware of everything between us, because, to my knowledge, you were the one who made the decision to send the original (inappropriate) cease and desist letter to me. I also carbon copied Dr. Destler into this email, because I feel this is an important matter of his concern.

Mr. Colon, I am very upset that you will file a complaint with ICANN. I understand that the pricing for a UDRP complaint is around $1500 to $5000. (Our tuition dollars at work!) This is a senseless action for RIT to do. I'm sure the RIT community will be outraged if you decide to take this action. I can assure you that if this is your decision, the media will love this story. I've been on WHAM 13 News once about this issue, and the reporter wants me to keep him updated. RIT's Reporter magazine is also interested in writing articles in addition to the two they have already written.

I can be assured that once ICANN opens this case, it will be quickly terminated, seeing how foolish it is. Because there is no trademark infringement remotely involved, I will be extending the registration of www.ritbook.com again this December, so that I can continue its sole purpose to redirect potential customers to the new site, bookmaid.com. As we discussed, this new site will be clearly unaffiliated with RIT. RIT's paying thousands of dollars to prevent this redirection?

Mr Colon, I emailed Mary Beth Cooper on June 13, 2007 4:27 PM. She forwarded this email to you, yet you have neglected to address any of my concerns, and instead threatening to file a proceeding against me. I suggest that as a representative of RIT, you should take the time to address my concerns. Unfortunately, you are the only individual able to address legal affairs.

I am looking forward to an email from you regarding the matters I raised. That email can be found threaded below in the conversation.

Sincerely,
Dan Leveille



June 15   Case Update

RIT Files a (Expensive) Compaint with ICANN

Well, RIT has decided that they will be filing a complaint with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). This will cost RIT between $1500 and $5000 - our tuition dollars at work! Here's the letter I recieved:

From:  Bobby Colon <racgla@rit.edu>
To:  Dan Leveille <drl4193@rit.edu>
Date:  Jun 15, 2007 11:24 AM
Subject:  Re: Meeting

Dan

I'm sorry that we were not able to resolve the trademark infringement issue involving your use of the domain name www.ritbook.com. I continue to believe that RIT's last proposal for resolution was fair and generous.

Unfortunately, you did not agree.

As a result of our inability to amicably resolve this matter, I have been authorized to commence a proceeding under the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' ("ICANN") Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("Policy"). The Policy can be found on the ICANN website, www.icann.org/dndr/udrp/policy.htm. I expect the proceeding to be filed during the first week in July, 2007 and will provide you with a courtesy copy of the complaint prior to filing.

Until such time as the complaint has been filed, RIT's final offer for resolution of this matter is still on the table:
  1. You will be allowed to use the domain name www.ritbook.com until your registration expires on December 7, 2007.
  2. Your use of the domain name will be solely for the purpose of redirecting your customers to a new website, bookmaid.com.
  3. You will not be allowed to use the domain name, www.ritbook.com, in any advertising, but can display on your new website, bookmaid.com, that it was formerly known as www.ritbook.com until December 7, 2007.
  4. You will continue to abide by the prior changes made to your website including changes in color and a clear unambiguous statement that bookmaid.com is not affiliated with the Rochester Institute of Technology.
  5. If you have any questions please let me know. If you think a further meeting on this issue would help I would be more than happy to meet with you prior to the date of the filing of the ICANN complaint.

Bobby Colon, Esq.
Chief Legal Officer


June 4   Case Update

My Reply to RIT's "Final Demands"

Mary Beth Cooper, Vice President of Student Affairs at RIT emailed me and asked what my thoughts were on the "Final Demands." Here is my reply:

From:  Dan Leveille <drl4193@rit.edu>
To:  Mary Beth Cooper <mbcvsa@rit.edu>
Date:  Jun 4, 2007 1:27 AM
Subject:  Re: Meeting

Just to recap, the demands asked of me are:

  1. I am only allowed to use ritbook.com until registration expires or December 31, 2007; whichever is earlier.
  2. I can use of ritbook.com solely for the purpose of redirecting users to the new website, which I need to have in place by June 30, 2007
  3. I have to tell RIT what domain I am registering before I register it, so that "I won't infringe again".
  4. I cannot use ritbook.com in any advertising.

First off, my new domain is www.bookmaid.com and I demand that this name not be disclosed to anyone other than you, Robert Colón, and Dr. Simone.

Robert Colón's email states that I cannot use ritbook.com in any advertising, which I'm assuming means that I cannot advertise ritbook.com. Because of course it would be unreasonable to restrict me from advertising the new site and saying "formerly ritbook.com".

Mr. Colón states that I am only allowed to use ritbook.com until registration expires or December 31, 2007, whichever is earlier. This is one request on Mr. Colón's behalf that I cannot comply with. My business, like any other, cannot afford to lose potential customers. There are hundreds of links and media on the web with the url "ritbook.com." Once an individual hears this name and decides to visit the URL, if I do not have it registered, he will be faced with a page that says "The page cannot be displayed" or "Server not found." This is something I cannot let happen. RIT's trades are not losing authenticity. There is absolutely no reason why RIT should demand I do this, and thus I am not going to comply with this demand.

Dan Leveille


May 23   Case Update

RIT's "Final Demands"

The Chief Legal Officer has finally contacted me (10 days later then they said they would). He says these are the terms I must comply to:
  1. I am only allowed to use ritbook.com until registration expires or December 31, 2007; Whichever is earlier. Registration ends December 7, 2007.
  2. I can use of ritbook.com solely for the purpose of redirecting users to the new website, which I need to have in place by June 30, 2007
  3. I have to tell them what domain I am registering before I register it, so that "I won't infringe again".
  4. I cannot use ritbook.com in any advertising.
I have no problem with "demands" #2 and #3, but it's #1 and mostly #4 that I'm not going to comply with. I did agree with them to changing the name - I registered a new domain 2 days ago; it's name will not be publicly disclosed yet.


April 10   Case Update

The Phone Game

The day after receiving the letter, I acted right away. I called the woman they told me to call, Dawn Soufleris. Someone in her office said that Dawn will be out for a while. She then told me that she would call me back later in the day. I have yet to receive that call. I called the Chief Legal Officer to tell him that I could not get in contact with Dawn. He didn't answer my phone call, twice. I tried calling RIT's Vice President for Student Affairs. She was not there. Someone in her office told me that the Assistant Director of Student Conduct would call me. He called me. He said that he did not have enough information about the situation and needed to speak to the Chief Legal Officer before he discusses the situation with me. He tried calling the Chief Legal Officer twice. No answer. He finally called me back the day before the deadline.

Short Term Requirements

After talking with the Assistant Director of Student Conduct yesterday, we discussed what needed to be done for today's deadline. These are the following: The main reason RIT is taking these actions against ritbook is because it "could lead to customer confusion." They complained that the people may think that this site is an RIT website. I explained that I CANNOT meet their deadline. To move the site & change the name, it's going to take a long time. I got them to give me a month. The deadline is now extended until May 10th. I'm complying with these short term requirments so it will give me a month to figure out what to do.

We're Getting The Media Involved

I am meeting with the following organizations to discuss ritbook and the issue with RIT. Want to help publicize? Feel free to contact the media about this issue. Tell them they can contact me (drl4193@rit.edu) for any additional information.

April 3   Case Start

Campus Safety hand-delivered the following letter to my door:

View this Issue on: ABC's 13Wham News  •  Digg.com  •  Newsvine.com  •  The RIT Sentinel  •  Facebook

President Simone's First and Second Response.

Give Your Input.

      Please give your comments on this case. Please give your input and refrain from any tasteless rants or inappropriate language.

      Currently, there are two courses at RIT studying ritbook and providing technical and business consulting. ritbook is not only a student resource, but a learning opportunity for many students here at the institute.

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Comment:
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