AOL can’t trademark ‘You have mail’

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AOL can't trademark 'You have mail'

A U.S. District Court in Virginia has given AT&T the go-ahead to use slogans and service names popularized by rival Internet services provider America Online, company officials said.

The ruling is the latest setback to AOL’s efforts to fend off competition in its consumer businesses.

America Online filed suit against AT&T last December in an effort to prevent AT&T’s WorldNet Internet access service from using expressions like “you have mail,” “IM,” and “buddy list” that echo popular names of key AOL e-mail and communications features.

According to AT&T, the court said the terms are generic expressions that are the property of no one, ruling that AOL cannot claim them at issue as trademarks nor prevent any party from using them.

America Online said it plans to appeal the decision.

The verdict comes one week after AT&T’s WorldNet unit announced plans for an instant electronic messaging to compete with AOL’s well-established Instant Messenger system.

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