Gaim IM Client Renamed to 'Pidgin'

The popular open source instant messaging client Gaim has a new name thanks to legal pressure from AOL, now being dubbed "Pidgin." The slightly more bizarre moniker comes after lengthy and secret settlement talks with AOL, which Gaim developers apologized for.

Originally called "GTK+ AOL Instant Messenger," the project was renamed to Gaim after an initial complaint by AOL. After AOL trademarked the "AIM" name a few years later, the company put legal pressure on the developers once again, who sought support of lawyers.

AOL's legal team backed off for a while, but threatened to sue Gaim's lead developer following the beta release of version 2.0 in December 2005. As a result, the project formed an umbrella corporation for protection purposes and began discussing a lasting settlement of the issue with AOL.

"Getting a settlement with AOL has taken FAR FAR longer than we would have ever guessed. On legal advice, we have refrained from any non-beta release during this process as a show of good faith, and to keep AOL from giving up on it. Again, on legal advice, we have also kept this information closely controlled," the Gaim team wrote late Friday.

"At long last, I am pleased to announce that we have a signed settlement and can release our new version. There is one catch however: we have had to change the project's name."

Gaim will now be known as Pidgin, which is the name given to a language created spontaneously as a means of communication between those speaking different languages. libgaim, the library employed by a number of other applications including Adium on Mac OS X, has been renamed to "libpurple."

"I, and all of pidgin's development team have deeply hated the need to keep some portion of our work, decision making and discussion secret for a time. I sincerely apologize that as a result of this need, you all have had no chance to help us with it, and to provide feedback," one developer wrote. "Now that the settlement is signed, we hope to have the final Pidgin 2.0.0 release late this week or early next."

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