AOL Grabs Aimster's Domain Names

Discussion in 'Use of the Law Forum & News' started by Legal Information, May 28, 2001.

Should Aimster have been forced to relinquish its domain names?

  1. No - AOL influenced

    4 vote(s)
    57.1%
  2. No - bad decision

    3 vote(s)
    42.9%
  3. Maybe - need more facts

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Yes - bad faith infringement

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
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  1. Legal Information

    Legal Information Law Topic Starter New Member

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    A three-member panel of the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) decided during the week of May 14, that the names Aimster.com, A1mster.com, Aimstertv.com and Aimstertv.net violate the AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) trademark and that Aimster must relinquish those domain names to AOL.

    The basis for the NAF's decision was that AOL owns the trademark rights for the letters "AIM" for the AOL Instant Messenger and that Aimster, whose product interacts with the AOL Instant Messenger, had sought to capitalize on the popularity of the trade name of that product. As a result of the deicision, Aimster was also forced to relinquish its control of Icqster.com and Ic2ster.com, violative of AOL's ICQ other instant messenger product.

    Gervaise Davis, an NAF panel member and a leading California intellectual property attorney, dissented in a 2-1 decision comparing Aimster’s use of the term “AIM” to a company that creates an answering service that works with specific brand of telephone. Trademark infringement would not occur if the product was identifying the brand of telephone the answering machine works.

    Aimster argued that the term "aim" is generic and that its usage was to target files. Johnny Deep, CEO of Aimster stated that he thought the panel was influenced by the size of AOL and that this was an example of a "big company against a small company."

    This reporter is disturbed by the fact that this decision wrests property from its rightful owner as a result of infringement rather than the issuance of an injunction and payment of monetary damages. The NAF's powers should have been limited to preventing Aimster from using the "aimster.com" domain name in association with its product as opposed to a forfeiture of the name, property that is separable and exclusive from the brand name of its product. The "aimster.com" could be used for numerous other non-infringing purposes. This decision sends a chilling effect upon the Internet community, where any finding of infringment could result in not only losing one's ability to ply a trade name, but also a valuable long-term investment in real estate.
     
  2. jordan

    jordan New Member

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    That is ridiculous. So if I have a domain name that might be infringing on someone else's trademark I can't change my use of the mark to something that is non-infringing and I may have to lose my Internet identity that I have had for 2 years?
     
  3. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    That's exactly the point made by TheLAW Reporter. :mad: :eek: It is, IMHO, a terrible decision and I wonder who the other two panelists were.
     
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