By BILL ZAN
On Thursday, April 30, University High School (UHS) student Alex Chang (Sr.), creator of mobile application GradeCheck, received a cease and desist order from Eagle Software, the company that makes Aeries/ABI, for copyright infringement and unfair competition. GradeCheck is an improved interface for ABI users in the Irvine Unified and Tustin school districts. Since the cease and desist letter was sent, Chang has taken down the application from the App Store. It will not be removed from devices that have already downloaded the application, but the app can no longer be downloaded and will no longer be updated. Chang understands the copyright infringement claim but does not understand the unfair competition claim.
Chang is currently in talks with multiple attorneys to explore his options. Attached to the cease and desist letter was a bill of $884.95 to cover Eagle Software’s legal fees. Chang does not want to take down GradeCheck or pay the legal fees, although the easiest option would be to cease, desist and pay the bill.
Chang has received support from many UHS students. As of May 17, 2015, Chang’s post on Facebook criticizing the letter received 141 likes and 45 comments, all of which are in support of Chang.
When asked about his feelings regarding the cease and desist letter, Chang said, “I was shocked at first, but I can see where they’re coming from. Protecting trademarks is very important and them enforcing it is definitely within their power — in fact, I’d recommend it. However, they could’ve had me remove it in other ways, like just emailing me. But yes, in a way, a cease and desist letter is the most professional way to handle these things so I understand.”
Chang did not profit from GradeCheck. The application was free to download and did not have advertisements. Hitting a high school student with a cease and desist letter with an attached legal fee without any previous contact is an inconsiderate action befitting large corporations like Eagle Software. Eagle Software could have just sent a representative to email Chang asking him to take down the application, a reasonable move since Chang is only a high school student. Instead, it dished out a cease and desist letter with an attached legal fee to someone who not only receives no profit from the app but also made the app for the convenience of educators and other high school students.
Eagle Software did not respond for comments.