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Arbitration Ruling: Aimster Must Relinquish Domains

Aimster vows to appeal the ruling in order to keep its popular domain names that AOL says violates its trademarks.

A National Arbitration Forum panel ruled 2-1 last week that domain names registered by Aimster violate the trademark for America Online’s instant messaging system, AIM. But the company’s founder, Johnny Deep, said he will challenge the panel’s order to relinquish its domain names. At issue are the domain names aimster.com, aimstertv.com, and a1mster.com. The panel ruled that Aimster’s domain names were intentionally chosen for their similarity to AIM. Aimster contends that the name was inspired by Deep’s teen-age daughter, who he and his wife often refer to as Aimee.

Aimster, a technology that users can attach to AOL’s instant messenger, allows users to share music files only with the individuals on that person’s “buddy list,” and has attracted about 4.2 million users. Aimster says that it is doing nothing wrong, and wants the court to validate that opinion in an effort to prevent the RIAA from setting its sights on the Napster-like technology.

Aimster is no stranger to the inside of a courtroom, having filed suit against the Recording Industry Association of America in U.S. District Court in Albany earlier this month. Aimster is asking the court for a declaratory judgement that the company is not violating U.S. copyright law. The RIAA sent a “cease and desist” letter to Aimster in early April, saying the service should make sure no users were transferring copyrighted songs to other users. The law firm Boies, Schiller, and Flexner, which represents Aimster in the case, also represents Napster.

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