Dan Leveille thought he was doing a great service to his fellow students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) when he started an online book trading website exclusively for RIT students at ritbook.com. Many students agreed with him and began using the site immediately. The school, however, was not nearly as impressed.
On Tuesday, April 3, a formal letter was hand-delivered to Leveille from the Chief Legal Officer of RIT. The university was accusing Leveille of violating its trademark on the terms "RIT" and "Rochester Institute of Technology." Leveille was given one week to remove all references to the trademarks on his website (save for a disclaimer making it clear that the website was in no way affiliated with the institution), including the domain name. Furthermore, RIT is threatening him not only with litigation, but with a referral to Student Conduct, where his career as a student at the university could be at stake and the sole "arbitrator" of justice is... RIT.
And so, Leveille found himself in a sticky situation to say the least. Not being an expert in trademark law (or any law for that matter), he posted the letter on the site, asking for advice from his peers and anyone else who would give it. So far, the comments have ranged from "fuck rit" to a very helpful post from an attorney in New York City spelling out some of what Leveille could expect from the litigation that could ensue.
As of yet, Leveille has not made public his intended course of action.
was opened to the RIT community this year as a forum where textbooks could be posted for sale by their owners. The site facilitates the connection of students who wish to sell and buy textbooks by acting as a common meeting place and facilitating the initial contact between buyer and seller.
The Rochester Institute of Technology is located in Rochester, NY and boasts an enrollment of about 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The school's largest programs are in Engineering, Computing, and Imaging Arts and Sciences. The university is also home to the National Technical Institute of the Deaf, the world's first and largest technological college for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.