A US court has granted pornography and men's magazine publisher Playboy Entertainment the right to sue internet service provider AOL over copyright.
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The decision enables Playboy to reopen a lawsuit launched in 1999.
The case hinges on whether AOL unit Netscape infringed copyright by using the words "playboy" and "playmate" as signposts within its search engine.
The terms were used to prompt sexually explicit online banner ads, which did not link to Playboy's own content.
The issue is whether a brand like Playboy can enjoy as much trademark protection online as it does elsewhere.
An AOL spokesman said the firm was "disappointed" by the ruling.