The student auction service on the USG's Point website, formerly pBay, was renamed TigerTrade on Thursday after a University lawyer raised concerns about possible copyright violations.
Clay Bavor '05, who launched the pBay website this week, received a phone call on Wednesday afternoon from University counsel Clayton Marsh '85.
Marsh warned that legal consequences might result from use of the pBay name and logo. The pBay logo closely resembled that of eBay, the online auction company.
Meg Whitman '77, who donated $30 million to the University for construction of a sixth residential college, is the CEO of eBay.
"We discussed the different scenarios that could happen," Bavor said. "The worst case would be us getting a cease-and-desist letter."
Bavor notified the USG that he planned to change the name of the site, and USG Vice President Jesse Creed '06 sent an email to the Senate on Wednesday soliciting suggestions for a new name.
Bavor said that although he never cleared the pBay name with eBay, he had not anticipated any problems.
"We didn't think we'd have much trouble because we are strictly nonprofit, noncommercial, and it's not visible to the public," Bavor said. "It's actually kind of funny. If you search Google for pBay, you see about 10 different pBays."
University officials first learned of the pBay name when the USG presented its plans for the Point website last fall.
"We supported the project, and we let other offices know about it," University communications director Lauren Robinson-Brown '85 said. "We did discuss the issue of pBay. We noted that there might be some concern, but it was our understanding that the students would check into the issue. It was never a final name."
She stressed that Point is a student-run site, and that the University acted in an advisory capacity to the USG last fall.
Calls to eBay and the University counsel's office were not returned Thursday afternoon.
The potential copyright issues raised by Marsh relate only to the eBay name and logo, not the site's design, Bavor said. eBay terms like "Buy It Now" were not used on the Point site, and eBay uses a different auction structure, he noted.
Bavor sought to downplay the significance of the name change.
"You could call pBay a 'beta launch'" Bavor said, using programming jargon for a preliminary release. "We were able to work out some bugs . . . There also wasn't a big advertising campaign for it, like there will now be for TigerTrade."
Bavor said the original name of the auction site, which was launched on Monday, came from a project he completed for a computer science class last fall. "The USG had very little attachment to the name pBay," he said.
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