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Aimster Loses Domain to AOL

CmdrTaco posted more than 12 years ago | from the i-guess-that-isn't-totally-surprising dept.

The Internet 169

mduell writes "The National Arbitration Forum (NAF) decided that the "AIM" in Aimster violates America Online's trademark and that Aimster must relinquish several Internet domain names with "AIM" in them to AOL." Just another in a long series of cases that prove that if you have a trademark, you have the right to any domain name that contains those letters in that order. I don't like it any more then you do.

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Who else? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#211437)

What about Aim toothpast?

Well that kills my project (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#211438)

And I was so close to releasing the first beta of my new instant messenger... imAIMsmallanimals.

Guess I'll have to continue with my AI-based program which automatically defends you against bogus lawsuits... notgoingtogAOL.

Aw crap...

Re:I don't see what's wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#211439)

Your analogies are worse.

Client-Server Instant Messenging is to P2P Instant Messenging as Chicken Buckets are to Watches and Clocks? Good luck on the GRE.

Re:Except that Aimster is infringing... (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 12 years ago | (#211440)

True, they cannot trademark "AIM" in any context, but they do have rights over the use of AIM as an acronym for AOL "Instant Messenger." Since AIMster was clearly using it as such an acronym, their use is infringing.

Re:Can't use the word "AIM?" (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 12 years ago | (#211441)

Obviously not. AOL is not claiming that they own the word "AIM," only that they own the use of the acronym AIM as an acronym for "AOL Instant Messenger." As the NRA would presumably not be using it in that context, they would be uninfringing. However, as AIMster is clearly using it as an acronym for AOL's trademarked system, it is indeed infringing.

Re:WinZip? (2)

hawk (1151) | more than 12 years ago | (#211443)


> Microsoft owns the trademark on "Windows".


no, they don't. In fact, they made a very big deal about that several years ago.


however, if someone tried to market "Microsoftster Windows," they'd have exactly the same problems that aimsterhas . . .


hawkj

No sympathy for Aimster, cept for their lost money (3)

extremely (1681) | more than 12 years ago | (#211444)

See, I love the product but trademark law is pretty clear on this sort of thing. If they had a named a toaster or a car or a haircut "Aimster" they would still have that domain. The trick to trademarks are that you can't pick a confusing name and then play in the same sandbox. Their product worked through and with AIM and they named it AIMster which does in-fact make it look like it was a related product, (which it is, of course) but in trademark terms it also makes it look like it is "blessed" by the holders of the original name. We'll all be on the other side of this when M$ decides to sell their own version of Linux and starts calling it mslinux.net =)

--
$you = new YOU;

Re:AIM is found in the dictionary! (2)

Nugget94M (3631) | more than 12 years ago | (#211446)

Yes, it's quite clear that you do not understand patents and trademarks. Why did you feel the need to post to slashdot to tell us, though? Nobody here cares that you don't understand this stuff. If it bothers you that much, go learn how patents and trademarks work.

Re:AIM for your buddies (4)

Genom (3868) | more than 12 years ago | (#211447)

So the solution for them is to just drop the A.

Then they make it work with ANY IM client - AIM, ICQ, Jabber, Yahoo, MSN, etc... (Jabber would probably be a good start here - port the existing infrastructure to a jabber-based model, then plug in other IMs at will =)

Of course, I'm sleep-deprived and running solely on caffeine, so this probably is a really, really stupid idea, since it sounds cool to me ;)

Re:AOL reclaims aimster domain (2)

Chris Hiner (4273) | more than 12 years ago | (#211448)

They'll just have to rename... how about:
acclaimster
claimster
disclaimster
exclaimster
proclaimster
reclaimster

I don't see what's wrong (3)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 12 years ago | (#211451)

What is Aimster? Is it anything to do with AOL Instant Messenger? If so, then they *are* using the "aim" part to play on AOL Instant Messenger, and diluting the market value of the brand. Or is the name a coincidence?

Licq, etcetera (1)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 12 years ago | (#211453)

Does this mean they will also go after Licq.org ICQ.org and other related domains?

Re:WinZip? (1)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 12 years ago | (#211454)

That sounds pretty scary. It might even mean that if I created a domain called "xpenhancer.com" to sell a multiple-desktop tool for Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft could legally take the domain away.

No, because your product would not compete with Windows XP itself, in fact, it would require one to use it in order for your product to be successful.

AIMster is a product similar to AIM. If it were an add-on to integrate your Buddies in a LDAP enviromnent or whatever, I doubt AOL would've cared much.

Why would they consent to arbitration ? (1)

Archfeld (6757) | more than 12 years ago | (#211455)

I would take it to court...To hell with NAF

Company names? (1)

Shemp (11349) | more than 12 years ago | (#211457)

I work for a non-profit organization called the AIM Institute. We have a web site at www.aiminstitute.org [aiminstitute.org] . Should I be worried that AOL can apropriate my company's domain name?

Re:Double /. standard? (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 12 years ago | (#211458)

Whoa - hang on there. 2600 is being sued by Ford, not by GM, and the suit is on the grounds of trademark tarnishment of the Ford name, not on the basis of trademark infringement of "general motors". They are two very different issues.

Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

Re:Quick, someone trademark .com! (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 12 years ago | (#211459)

That would be great - if you could just drive off everyone who thinks that ".com" == "Internet", then the rest of us could have it back for what we originally used it for. Oops, except now you have to get ".biz" too...

Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

Re:Company names? (1)

Zico (14255) | more than 12 years ago | (#211461)

Does the institute have anything to with AOL Instant Messenger? If yes, then you should be worried. Somehow I doubt it, though.

Look, it's one thing that Taco made the dumb comment that this "prove[s] that if you have a trademark, you have the right to any domain name that contains those letters in that order." Yeah, how does it prove this? Where in this case do you see AOL going after all the domains which contain the string "aim" that aren't related to AOL's AIM product?

Like I said, it's one thing for Taco to make that dumb comment. What's really sad is to see all the sheep here who believe it.


Cheers,

Re:Double /. standard? (3)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 12 years ago | (#211462)

Kind of a double-standard here? It's okay if the site in question just bitches about a company, but not if they make money?

No double-standard, its called free speech.

Trademarks can't be infringed upon for commercial use (which is what AIMster is doing) -- that's the whole pointof a trademark -- to keep your MARK in TRADE distinct from others' use of marks in trade. To prevent commercial confusion.

Using a trademark to offer criticism (as in Burger King saying "McDonald's hamburgers have 50% less beef") is perfectly legit.

Saying "fuck General Motors" is a grayer area, because by itself it isn't offering much criticism (although it could be equally argued that it doesn't run much risk of confusing consumers, either -- who would think GM would sell products under that slogan?)

---------------------------------------------

Re:Except that Aimster is infringing... (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 12 years ago | (#211463)

Wow. If that's true then this is really really upsetting. However, several news stories have indicated otherwise. These could have easily been misinformed reporters. Someone else in this thread said that he used to work for aimster, and that it was named Aimster because you could target who you shared with.

Truth is, we'll never know. All meanings were probably intentional. It's just not as scary as it would be if AOL went after meatloaf.com, and we shouldn't suggest that it is.
--

Except that Aimster is infringing... (5)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 12 years ago | (#211464)

Aimster was named after AIM because it incorporates your AOL Instant Messenger buddy list. This is a pretty clear use of a trademarked term, and it *is* trying to indicate that they're related.

AOL is completely whithin their rights, and if they didn't defend themselves than they could easily lose the ability to defend themselves in the future.

The real news story is that the otherwise legally on-top-of-it Aimster team let this slip.
--

Double /. standard? (2)

KFury (19522) | more than 12 years ago | (#211469)

Reading all the CdrTaco backflap about AIMster being related to AIM and therefore vulnerable, it's amusing to me that while I and others here can see, and reluctantly agree with, the decision that AIMster does infringe on the trademark, we all think that fuckgeneralmotors.com should remain under independent control.

Kind of a double-standard here? It's okay if the site in question just bitches about a company, but not if they make money?

Kevin Fox
--

XXX Copies Trademark, looses domain. Duh. (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 12 years ago | (#211471)

Haven't we had enough of these sorts of stories fer chrissakes. If I went into biz selling a cola drink in red cans named Cokester how long do you think I'd be around? At least Etoy had some justification to it. This one is pathetic.

It reminds me of the old MASH series where Hawkeye goes beserk when served liver and fish for the n100th time in a row, and incites a riot with the refrain "We want something else!"

Well Taco Leader, "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!" "We want something else!"

Re:WinZip? (5)

Merk (25521) | more than 12 years ago | (#211472)

Well "AIM" is the full acronym of their software, so you'd probably have to have a full Windows title, like "windows95" or "windowsxp". However this does mean that if I were to create a domain called "windowsxpfixes.com" that had a list of tweaks or fixes to Windows XP (assuming of course it doesn't run perfectly out of the box) that MS could snatch my domain.

That sounds pretty scary. It might even mean that if I created a domain called "xpenhancer.com" to sell a multiple-desktop tool for Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft could legally take the domain away.

Note that nothing here says that Aimster claimed to be made by the same people who made AOL Instant Messenger. The mere fact that the name incoporated the name of related software was enough.

This ruling could have huge ranging implications. Think of how many computer fan websites there are out there that use the name of the product in them. www.matroxusers.com [matroxusers.com] , www.amdzone.com [amdzone.com] , www.voodooextreme.com [voodooextreme.com] , www.geforcefaq.com [geforcefaq.com] ... Since these are normally fan sites it's in the best interest of the companies with the related trademarks to ket the fans express themselves, but what if company XXX comes out with a crappy product and XXXtweak.com trashes it in a review?

This is pretty scary stuff. In the past it seems to me that most of the domain names taken from someone were non-commercial ones that often were squatting on the name. But now what can you do? If you have a domain name that insults a company, they can take it. If you make a product designed for use with another product they can take your name. If you don't make a product at all and you're careless they can take it. Who is safe? I can see it in the news tomorrow:

Popular Linux enthusiast website "Slashdot.org" will be forced to find a new domain name. A lawyer for Megacorp explained: "The syntax for using commands in our environment is well known to require a command keyset of a slash followed by a dot. Our customers were being confused by the "slashdot" website, assuming it was a reference for our command syntax. These people, who admit to being hackers, appropriated the domain name with no regard for our users' confusion. Thanks to the American Justice System we have been able to restore the rightful use of our domain. We just want to reassure our users that despite the misuse of our domain name by these Linux hackers, our software has not been infected with the GPL virus."

Which raises an interesting question (2)

jfedor (27894) | more than 12 years ago | (#211473)

What happens when one company holds a trademark on a name which is a substring of another company's trademark?

-jfedor

Sorry, won't work... (1)

LocalH (28506) | more than 12 years ago | (#211475)

...IIRC Sun already trademarked '.'. Therefore, all you renegade website will have to pony up to Sun for your unauthorised use of their clearly valid trademark.

Why is it clearly valid? Because they got to it first, that's why.
_______
Scott Jones
Newscast Director / ABC19 WKPT

Ahem, Taco... (2)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 12 years ago | (#211476)

I think the AIM in AIMster is rather related to AIM.

Re:Licq, etcetera (1)

gimpboy (34912) | more than 12 years ago | (#211477)

i think they have waited too long and dropped the ball on that one. i believe if you dont act to enforce your trademark then you have effictively given it up. perhaps they are trying to preserve whatever they have left with aim.

use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that

AOL toothpaste? (1)

MadAhab (40080) | more than 12 years ago | (#211479)

There's a toothpaste called Aim. I recommend that they sue AOL for control of the domains. Their trademark predates AOL's.

This is what happens when you let the rabid banshees, er, lawyers get into the works.

Boss of nothin. Big deal.
Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

Re:AIM for your buddies (2)

Hobbex (41473) | more than 12 years ago | (#211480)

Yeah right. If that is so, how come at the O'Reilly P2P conference back in February the "Aimster" representative wasted 20 minutes of all the attendees time explaning that "Aimster" was the nickname of a little girl called "Amy" that he wanted the product to please. His explanation for this was so long and weird that he came across as some sort of pervert, and managed to piss off everybody expecting something interesting from the discussion.

If you are going to lie, then at least stick to your story...

Bad Aim (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 12 years ago | (#211481)

I suggest someone register and publicize the domain "bad-aim" and see if AOL wants that one too :)

AOL reclaims aimster domain (1)

alehmann (50545) | more than 12 years ago | (#211483)

Ooops, "reclaims" has those 3 letters in sequence... I take my comment back.

They should have expected this, and more (1)

alehmann (50545) | more than 12 years ago | (#211484)

AIM is notorious for being proprietary, controlling, and locking competitors out. It may be a fun statement to trade music over TimeWarner/AOL's network, but they can and will lock your software out. It's a medium that AIMster doesn't control, and only AOL does. That's why smart elitist cyberpunks boycott AIM.

Besides, AIM is so stupid in the first place that it's a mediocre way of trading MP3's. It's centralized, which creates the above issues. Also, what happens when someone "warns" you for trading MP3's? Or AOL deletes your account for it. This is not a true peer-to-peer network.

Guilty (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 12 years ago | (#211485)

Does anybody else see the RIAA and MPAA pulling the strings behind this decision?

Re:Can't use the word "AIM?" (1)

Chasuk (62477) | more than 12 years ago | (#211487)

No, because the NRA would be promoting firearm safety, which, rather obviously, has nothing to do with instant messaging.

Of course, a bullet delivered to the brain does send a message - almost instantaneously - but I certainly don't want to be the recipient, and the connection is nebulous at best, don't you think?

Re:I don't see what's wrong (3)

Chasuk (62477) | more than 12 years ago | (#211488)

Agreed.

If I opened a business and merely appended "ster" to the end of an established corporate name marketing similar or identical product(s), would that be okay?

"KFCster," selling chicken?
"BKster," selling burgers?
"Jifster," selling peanut butter?

I didn't think so.

Re:I don't see what's wrong (1)

RobNich (85522) | more than 12 years ago | (#211492)

Your analogy is incorrect. Aimster is not a competitor to AOL Instant Messenger.

"KFCster," selling watches and clocks
"BKster," selling computers
"Jifster," chatting software
(for example)

None of these are competition and are not in the same industry as the products whose names they are similar to. In addition, none of these acronyms or product names are also english words. "Aim" is a word. Look it up.

The only way that Aimster is in competition with AOL is the fact that AOL is now AOL/Time Warner, one of the "record companies" being sued by Aimster.

All things considered, this is a really poor decision, and I think the NAF is not as neutral as is believed.

Re:Gaim? (2)

SonofRage (89772) | more than 12 years ago | (#211494)

the url for gaim is www.marko.net/gaim so I don't think this would apply

Re:WinZip? (1)

jacobcaz (91509) | more than 12 years ago | (#211495)

Obviously not. Microsoft has no claim over the "win" in WinZip because they are not CONFUSINGLY SIMILAR products.

One is an operating system, the other is a file utility.

The whole "big-bad-companies-taking-domains" occurs where there is intent to dilute the company's trademark by offering a confusingly similar product or service.

If I wrote an operating system and called it WinBest or WinAwesome then Microsoft *might* have a case to come after me.
-----

Re:WinZip? (2)

Crixus (97721) | more than 12 years ago | (#211497)

That sounds pretty scary. It might even mean that if I created a domain called "xpenhancer.com" to sell a multiple-desktop tool for Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft could legally take the domain away.

Absolutely. I have a friend who works for one of the very popular MS certification emulator program, companies. And a few years ago they had a product called "NT-Cert" or osmething like that, and they were served cease and desist papers to remove NT from their product name or else they'd be sued.

They chose to remove the NT from their product name and rename their two products something like "Workstation-Cert" and "Server-Cert."

Does this mean that MS would have won a long an drawn out legal battle? Who knows.

But in essence they did win since they could afford such a battle, and my friend's company could not.

AIM service siezed by American Indian Movement (2)

browser_war_pow (100778) | more than 12 years ago | (#211500)

In related news in a raid similar to the one that occupied Alcatraz Island, the American Indian Movement (AIM) siezed control of the building at American Online controlling the AIM instant messaging service on the grounds that the service violated the trademark intellectual property of the American Indian Movement and was also indirectly biggoted against American Indians everywhere.....

Next up... (1)

mbadolato (105588) | more than 12 years ago | (#211502)

Next up, the Air Force, for their "Aim High" slogon.

This should be target for AOL, because 1) the word AIM is in there, and 2) they are apparently high if they think they own the English word aim.

Quick, someone trademark .com! (1)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | more than 12 years ago | (#211503)

By their logic, if I trademark ".com", I own the internet, right? I think I'd better start getting those nastygrams out to MS, Network Solutions and Oracle. That should be a good start...

Firing Squad (1)

aridhol (112307) | more than 12 years ago | (#211504)

So what does a firing squad commander say?
Ready....
Point....
Fire!

Or are Ready and Fire (and maybe Point) already claimed?

He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom

Hit list (3)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 12 years ago | (#211506)

AOL's hit list [195.92.95.5] .
--

Right on target... (1)

Puck The Trickster (126825) | more than 12 years ago | (#211508)

So I guess the archery website www.aimandfire.com is next to go, no? They are shamelessly infringing on AOL, obviously.

Re:AIM service siezed by American Indian Movement (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 12 years ago | (#211510)

Also, the toothpaste manufacturer wants its domain back "we make holes in teeth-- take AIM against cavities..."
--

This is going to confuse consumers (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 12 years ago | (#211512)

obviously, AOL is trying to confuse consumers
who want to find aimster into reaching them
instead. this is what trademark law is intended
to prevent.

Trademark infringement. (1)

gunner800 (142959) | more than 12 years ago | (#211513)

Aimster is sort of an add-on to the AIM client. What does the "Aim" in "Aimster" refer to? Isn't "Aimster" directly dirived from "AIM"? It's clear to me that they were infringing the trademark.


My mom is not a Karma whore!

Re:Double /. standard? (2)

gunner800 (142959) | more than 12 years ago | (#211514)

It's okay if the site in question just bitches about a company, but not if they make money?

In a way, you're right. Under fair use you can often violate IP for critical purposes but generally not for profit. The fair use doctrine does not apply to trademarks (only to copyrights) but are you surprised many of us like the fair use doctrine?

Plus, the fuckgeneralmotors.com domain is being fought by Ford, not General Motors, so that is sort of a different issue.


My mom is not a Karma whore!

WinZip? (4)

e_n_d_o (150968) | more than 12 years ago | (#211515)

Microsoft owns the trademark on "Windows".

So basically what were saying here is that any product name of the form Win* can have its domain taken by Microsoft.

This is not good.

Note to WinTrolls: (For once, I am simply using Microsoft as an example, and not deriding them.)
--

Re:significant possibility of confusion (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 12 years ago | (#211523)

Just another in a long series of cases that prove that if you have a trademark, you have the right to any domain name that contains those letters in that order.

In related news, Microsoft is suing Sprint because Microsoft owns the trademark to "NT".

.com? (1)

2MuchC0ffeeMan (201987) | more than 12 years ago | (#211526)

now if we only trademarked '.com' ... or just 'com' in general, no site would be safe... cept /. :P

I think Aimster will have an easy argument (1)

Monkeyman334 (205694) | more than 12 years ago | (#211528)

First, on their site they always call it "Aimster", not "AIMster". And "aim" is a dictionary word. Now that might not be enough in itself, but they have little bulls eyes all over the place. Cause it's *Aim*ster, ha, punny.

Re:I thought it was named after his daughter (2)

X-Dopple (213116) | more than 12 years ago | (#211529)

I guess all girls named Aimee should fear for their lives ... they're infringing on AOL's ownage of the word 'AIM'

Gaim? (1)

baywulf (214371) | more than 12 years ago | (#211530)

What about gaim? Are they next?

Re:I don't see what's wrong (2)

Megahurts (215296) | more than 12 years ago | (#211531)

it would be more like:

"KFCster," selling bbq sauce "BKster," selling ketchup "Jifster," selling jams (for example)

as I understand it, Aimster is a program that allows for trading of mp3's over the aim network, hence the name. There could probably even be reasonable grounds for napster to sue. (now that would be hilarious to see. They might actually *win* a lawsuit)

---

Re:Ahem, Taco... (1)

gtaluvit (218726) | more than 12 years ago | (#211532)

I agree, the AIM in Aimster is directly related to AOL Instant Messenger. Makes total sense to me to take it back.

Re:Double /. standard? (1)

Courageous (228506) | more than 12 years ago | (#211534)

"Kind of a double-standard here? It's okay if
the site in question just bitches about a
company, but not if they make money?"
---
No, it's not a double standard. If someone makes
use of the market presence of someone else's
trademark in order to make market headway them-
selves, the is a clear misuse of that other
party's trade, and protected under law.

"Fuck General Motors" is a Constitutionally-
protected expression of free speech which is an
example of something which is arguably one of the
main reasons for the existence of the 1st
Amendment: the freedom to criticize.

Note: I'm deliberately dodging the issue of
whether or not "AIMster" is something that
actually or obviously violates AOL's trade on
AIM. That decision requires more information than
I personally have.

C//

Re:Why would they consent to arbitration ? (1)

hillct (230132) | more than 12 years ago | (#211537)

As the previous poster stated, it's required, but what's outragous is that a decision like this could even have been arbitrated to begin with.


--

AIM is found in the dictionary! (1)

kcwhitta (232438) | more than 12 years ago | (#211538)

These cases seem so ludicrous. I still don't understand how a company can take a three letter word out of a dictionary and patent it so no one else can use it.

Re:AIM is found in the dictionary! (1)

kcwhitta (232438) | more than 12 years ago | (#211539)

Oops -- meant trademark, not patent.

When Linus gets pissed... (1)

B14ckH013Sur4 (234255) | more than 12 years ago | (#211540)

Just wait 'til Linus gets pissed at all the world and starts snatching all the domains with "linux" in it... He does own the copywrite.
"I've seen plays that were more exciting than this.

Re:Err... (1)

ideut (240078) | more than 12 years ago | (#211542)

Go figure.

I figured that you were talking out of your arse before.

--

Re:I'll say it before, and I'll say it again... (1)

ideut (240078) | more than 12 years ago | (#211543)

Why will you say it again? Does it have any more profundity than a dog shit?

--

Re:AIM is found in the dictionary! (1)

ideut (240078) | more than 12 years ago | (#211544)

Nonsense. Who mentioned anything about patents? What a nonsense boy.

--

Trademark this... (1)

CrimsonHat (245444) | more than 12 years ago | (#211550)

I think I'll go ahead and trademark each letter of the alphabet. That way, whenever any new site comes up, I can say that they are infringing on MY trademark. AOL would in fact be infringing on three of them. Damn bastards, I'm gonna get 'em. Hmmm... Slashdot, that's 7, but you're infringing on one of them twice. Better put that trademark on numbers too, otherwise kuro5hin might get off a bit easy.

He's busted (1)

Scratch-O-Matic (245992) | more than 12 years ago | (#211551)

Looks like the founder, Johnny Deep, even stole his name from that actor guy.

Sorry...I'll just go back to sipping my Piet Depsi.



What about my trademark? (1)

DaHat (247651) | more than 12 years ago | (#211553)

I would now like to announce my new trademark ... of the letter 'R.' I guess everyone needs to turn over all domains that have the letter 'R' in it ... looks like I now own micRosoft.com then eh?

Yes (2)

localroger (258128) | more than 12 years ago | (#211555)

can you really trademark 3 arbitrary letters which make up a common generic English word?

Yes, that is the essence of a trademark. You can enforce that trademark when it is used with regard to a particular service or business. And it develops that Aimster is a service very similar in some respects (even compatible with) AOL's AIM. It's not just about "confusion," but about implied endorsement and the value of the brand.

I am thinking A1 steak sauce should now sue AOL.

Why? AOL doesn't make steak sauce.

Nice concept, what have you in mind re: execution? (3)

localroger (258128) | more than 12 years ago | (#211556)

We need a new law. One which does not permit sophist parasites such as the legal profession to live off its back.

And how exactly would this work? I would agree that we have too many lawyers in America today, and the law is too byzantine and obscure so that they are more necessary, but do you really think it is possible for human beings to implement a legal system of any kind with nobody at all performing such a function?

No matter how clear and simple the law is, if there is a procedure for administering it (such as our network of hearings and trials) then someone will have to advise plaintiffs and defendants on how to adhere to that procedure, since most of us won't know all the ins and outs.

And even the clearest law may not be understood by everybody. Lots of people seem inclined to interpret the law one way when they are the aggrieved party but another way when they are being sued. It's the job of a lawyer to explain these folks' true position to them, so they can avoid going to trial and getting whacked because they didn't understand the situation (or, alternately, so they can sue for just compensation which they might not have realized could be theirs).

This doesn't mean we need a system like we have, but try to be realistic. When Shakespeare wrote "first, we kill all the lawyers" those characters were planning a revolution; this was recognition that lawyers are a linchpin in the rule of law, and the first step in subverting that rule of law would have to be to get rid of them.

Of course, I suppose we could try anarchy, but I don't think that would work too well with our population and our level of technology. One day all those wunnerful feedback mechanisms that drive the invisible hand of the market would overshoot and we'd end up living in caves again. So, have you some other idea? Just wondering...

Ri-ight (5)

localroger (258128) | more than 12 years ago | (#211558)

There is an article in Wired about Aimster and much to my surprise the name ccomes from the author's daughter Aimee.

And of course we all know that (as they actually argued in court) the chain restaurant Hooters refers to the sound made by their owl mascot.

Re:Company names? (1)

dtobias (262347) | more than 12 years ago | (#211561)

There's also aim.org [aim.org] , which belongs to Accuracy In Media. There's also the American Indian Movement, but I don't know if they have a website. However, these things aren't related to instant messaging, so I don't think even the biased panels of the ICANN process would take away domains used in these contexts.
--Dan

Err... (1)

Scoria (264473) | more than 12 years ago | (#211562)

I'm sorta wondering why AOL hasn't sued the makers of PowerAIM and PowerTools [bpssoft.com] for AOL.

Maybe because they're 'very friendly' toward AOL, giving their hosts free licenses and ripping off users to give them features everyone that doesn't use AOL already has...

Oooooh well... Looks like AOL-sponsored companies are free from that.

Re:Err... (1)

Scoria (264473) | more than 12 years ago | (#211563)

Now that I look at it, it appears its name has mysteriously changed to "PowerPlus for AIM."

Go figure.

A Question (2)

Popocatepetl (267000) | more than 12 years ago | (#211564)

So would this happen if the entity using the domain name was in another country? Do United States companies own the internet (or at least the most popular TLDs)?

slash? (1)

blkros (304521) | more than 12 years ago | (#211566)

So.? Would you guys, like sue me, if I took slasher dot org?

Re:AIM for your buddies (1)

shorti9 (307602) | more than 12 years ago | (#211567)

no, the Aimee story was another plausible explanation, i've heard it once. apparently they ran a search for "aimster" on several search engines to see where they were getting mentioned, and found girls named Aimee who used the nickname "aimster". the one i put above is the one i had explained to me when i asked "uh, aren't we infringing their trademark?". being a good employee, i simply swallowed management's explanation and went on my happy way, doing the RE work [sourceforge.net] (if you don't know OSCAR, that'll mean nothing to you) and occasionally adding a feature to the proxy.

who'd they send to the conference? it was probably johnny, who doesn't even know anyone named amy (or any of the variant spellings).

i really doubt he could con anyone else in the office into doing a presentation like that... perhaps rik, but it doesn't sound like something he'd do.

as a side note, you'll notice that one thing that aimster is definitely lacking is consistency. the whole dev team has probably dropped several times as much code as gets used.

AIM for your buddies (5)

shorti9 (307602) | more than 12 years ago | (#211568)

I worked at aimster for a few months before deciding they weren't going anywhere (read: yes, i know why it's named what it's named). The reason for "AIM"ster is that you were "AIM"ing for only your buddies. Any semblance to AOL's product offering is entirely coincidental. The fact that aimster (supposedly) integrates with IM products is a happy side note as well.

In the case that you weren't aware, aimster is a p2p app that was supposedly designed to integrate well with IM infrastructure (i say supposedly because, well, i know how the previous version worked =), and allow you to only share files with your buddies. The versions i worked on were rather lackluster, and the file sharing didn't work for most people most of the time. I can't speak for the new version, as it was released after i left the company.

Much as i dislike aimster, i think johnny had a good idea, and he was willing to support me to do the reverse engineering of AIM's OFT (AIM File Transfer) in an open manner. We have a partial implementation of it in libfaim, but nobody really cares enough to finish it up.

Re:Double /. standard? (1)

mech9t8 (310197) | more than 12 years ago | (#211569)

Well, the argument would be that having fuckgeneralmotors.com point to ford.com is like saying "fuck general motors, they suck, buy a ford instead."

(Not that I agree with that... but that's the "Free speech" aspect that differentiates the aimster and f!gm cases...)
--
Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.

Re:I don't see what's wrong (2)

mech9t8 (310197) | more than 12 years ago | (#211570)

Aimster is an instant messenger service, complete with Buddies, and clicking on "What is Aimster" just says you can Find New Buddies and Share with Buddies... It's totally designed to confuse your typical AOL user. As the article said...

In the NAF decision, Peter Michaelson wrote: "These domain names were intentionally selected ... by the respondent due to their high degree of similarity to the complainant's marks and hence for their potential to mislead the complainant's users."

Similarity? Instant Messenging products with Buddies called AIM and AIMster? I don't see any similarity at all... ;)

Of course the typical AOL user would be confused between Aimster and AIM. AOL has every right to go after them. (Inasmuch as corporations have rights, which is a whole other issue...)

--
Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.

Re:Double /. standard? (4)

mech9t8 (310197) | more than 12 years ago | (#211571)

It's okay if the site in question just bitches about a company, but not if they make money?

Hit the nail on the head with that one. The fuckgeneralmotors case is free speech. The aimster case is someone taking advantage of someone else's name to help their own product.

--
Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.

It's his daughter (1)

PicassoJones (315767) | more than 12 years ago | (#211573)

Although the service's founder originally claimed that it was inspired by his daughter, Madeline's, Instant Messaging software, we were later told that his daughter is named Aimee, and that she is the one who programmed it. It was also named after her. We also learned that she looks cute in a bikini. http://www.wired.com/news/mp3/0,1285,43441-1,00.ht ml Surely they can't be prevented from using a girl's name!

"ster?" (1)

Big Montana (315852) | more than 12 years ago | (#211574)

What about the "ster?" Does Napster have a claim as well? I would think they have more right to it than AOL since it has one more character...

aolstealsdomainnames.com (1)

gascsd (316132) | more than 12 years ago | (#211576)

What ever happened to this?

I remember reading on /. (wasn't a story, but a reply to one) that some guy registered this, AOL caught wind of it like 2 days later, and it was gone, off the root servers.

I wonder what would happen if I got f-aol.com ?

FUD alert (5)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 12 years ago | (#211577)

"Just another in a long series of cases that prove that if you have a trademark, you have the right to any domain name that contains those letters in that order."

You know, you guys don't have any right to complain about the spreading of FUD when you do it so often yourselves. AOL wouldn't have any right to the domain www.aimtokill.com as long as nobody was offering instant-messenger stuff there. You know that.

I agree that this is stupid, as long as Aimster has notices in reasonably conspicuous places to the effect that they are not affiliated with AOL, they should get to keep the domains. The name Aimster is not meant to confuse people into thinking its an officially AOL-endorsed product but its a clever (well, maybe not that clever) play on words that both lets people know its a file-sharing service and that it works with AIM.

However, just because this case is stupid doesn't give you the right to spread FUD, so keep quiet!

Re:I don't see what's wrong (1)

UltraBot2K1 (320256) | more than 12 years ago | (#211580)

Coming from someone with a default score of 0, I'm not terribly offended.

Re:I don't see what's wrong (1)

UltraBot2K1 (320256) | more than 12 years ago | (#211581)

Love or hate, i'm going to keep posting. At least until It's no longer 2k1 and I need to create UltraBot2k2.

I thought you got a default of 0 if you dropped below -10 karma. I though -1 constituted one of Michael's bitchslaps. Regardless, I've been there [slashdot.org] .

Re:I don't see what's wrong (4)

UltraBot2K1 (320256) | more than 12 years ago | (#211583)

"It's totally designed to confuse your typical AOL user. As the article said... "

Yeah, like THAT'S hard to do.

Re:Except that Aimster is infringing... (1)

redgekko (320391) | more than 12 years ago | (#211584)

You miss the point. It has nothing to do with the three letters AIM at all... It has to do with the fact that AIMster is using the letters to relate to AOL's product. I'm not usually one to side with AOL, but because AIMster is cross-compatible with AOL-AIM, it is arguable that AIMster is taking market share away from AOL, and using the 'letters' to that end. AOL will most likely win in court too because the argument is valid and they are practically FORCED to take action on these infringements because they could, because of trademark law, loose their trademark entirely if they don't enforce their trademark rights. Companies like Xerox and Velcro have had to fight constantly to enforce their trademarks. If they didn't, they would completely loose their right to defend their marks at all!

significant possibility of confusion (4)

janpod66 (323734) | more than 12 years ago | (#211585)

Just another in a long series of cases that prove that if you have a trademark, you have the right to any domain name that contains those letters in that order.

There is more involved here than just similarity of names. In this case, you have a product that is closely related to the trademark holder's product, and there is a significant possibility for confusion. That's probably why they lost.

If "Aimster" was a device for hunters or a water pistol, AOL would have much less of a claim and probably would have lost this one.

Re:Double /. standard? (2)

LaminatorX (410794) | more than 12 years ago | (#211586)

The trademark issue doesn't hinge on commercial vs non-commercial use, but rather on context. I could go into business as General Motors brand toilet plungers and all GM could do was bury me with legal fees in hopes that I couldn't go the distance to win the case.
This is why AoL needn't fear Aim toothpaste coming after them, as they don't make internet software. This is also how we have Apple Computers' mark [apple.com] side by side with Apple Records. [applecorp.com]

I thought it was named after his daughter (1)

lightware (415793) | more than 12 years ago | (#211587)

I thought Aimster was named after the creator's daughter, Aimee? I saw it in the last wired, I think. I couldn't find the same article on the web, but I found a related article. http://www.wired.com/news/mp3/0,1285,43441,00.html

dumb (1)

yassax (416227) | more than 12 years ago | (#211588)

Ok, what if your site was called www.iaimtoplease.com and you specialized in a personal escort service. Personally i think that would pretty helarious if AOL thought that THAT site was violating thier use of aim. A new feature on upcoming versions of AIM?? Heh, send your buddy a escort...

Don't forget those bastards... (1)

President of The US (443103) | more than 12 years ago | (#211589)

...at Aim toothpaste! Those leeches have been getting rich off AOL's trademarked name for a long time now!

AIM THIS!
-----------------------

This is really sad. (3)

cuyler (444961) | more than 12 years ago | (#211590)

Yes, Aimster does say that he (the creator) did get the idea from his daughter while she was using her AOL Instant Messanger and the fact that YES the name is derived from that but come on! The reason behind having such laws is so that other people won't infringe upon the value of your company's name or product.

This would involve name like calling your software "Microsoft Perl 2000". That would imply that the company (in this case Microsoft) either supports the use of the name (and endorses it) or has created it itself. When this is not true the law is needed.

Aimster and AIM are not competing products nor are the two companies involved competing at any level. People will not invest in Aimster because it has a name similar to AOL, in fact the web site (last time I was there) even mentioned that there was absolutly no relation between the two businesses.

This is sad, it really is. How much does a large company need to push? Hell, Archie Comics thinks that they own the rights to the name Veronica. I'm just glad my name hasn't been in a comic book or closely resembling any corporation.

- Cuyler

I'll say it before, and I'll say it again... (1)

kypper (446750) | more than 12 years ago | (#211591)

Who patented 'TM'?

I see something wrong (1)

Tyler-Durden255 (447448) | more than 12 years ago | (#211594)

The "court" found that AIMster was "confusingly similar" to Aol Instant Messanger, and that AIMster somehow devalued the "brand" of instant messanger. That Aimster "is anything to do with" instant messanger is not the legal standard, I'm not at all confused about the diffrent products, I doubt that you are confusaed about witch one does what. Maby these arbitrators are just confused when anything involves a computer or the internet, maby they think were too dumb to know the diffrence. Besides this sets a horrible precidence, AIMster enhances Aol Instant Messanger allowing file transfer, it should be allowed to express that that is what it infact does. Now that AOL owns the word AIM, can I not have a domain name like www.trueaim.com, www.aimtrue.com, www.aim-for-the-heart.com, www.aimright.com? plus all there .org, .net, .co.uk, .whatever derivitives? Hey does AOL also own the simpler IM so i cant register the domain name www.IM-not-online.com , www.IMagine.com, www.IM-not-fond-of-aol.com and www.IM-not-using-AIM-anymore.com? Hell can AOL ban all other online messaging services from describing themselves as "instant messaging" as I IMagine they would love to do. IM convinced this is a precident that AIMs at the heart of online freedom and blowes a large hole in it. What's next, are idots like this panel going to shutdown an autosalvage operation like www.fordparts.com. Are they going to give all domain names like www.applefritter.com and www.lowendmac.com over to apple computer? Would Apple Computer rember that they once almost lost there name to the beatles "Apple Records" and have the decency to give them back? sosueme.

Depends on how the trademark is being used (1)

darthtuttle (448989) | more than 12 years ago | (#211598)

The problem here is that the name Aimster refers to something associated with AIM. If they were talking about archery there wouldn't be the issue there is now.
--
Darthtuttle
Thought Architect

Hunting (3)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 12 years ago | (#211601)

Does this mean the next time I go for target practice I owe AOL $$$ so I can work on my AIM?
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