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IM upstart to AOL: We're baaack

Instant messaging provider PalTalk says that it's back in contact with the online giant's AIM messaging service after being shut out for eight hours.

The battle between instant messaging Goliath AOL Time Warner and PalTalk, the latest David to force interoperability on it, entered day two, with the IM upstart saying it has stymied AOL's attempts to block its users.

PalTalk, a small New York-based instant messaging company focused on audio and video IM, said that AOL had succeeded in shutting it out for eight hours Wednesday. But, as it promised in announcing its plans to offer access to AIM contacts, or "buddies," the IM upstart foiled AOL's block by the end of the day.

"We have retooled and are again connected," PalTalk Chief Executive Jason Katz wrote in a PalTalk-to-AIM interview. "PalTalk would be happy to cooperate with AOL so that our users could message each other."

Roughly a quarter of PalTalk's 3 million registered users have the upgraded version of the software that lets them chat with AIM's estimated 100 million registered buddies.

AOL, which has been fending off another interoperability challenge by IM provider Trillian in recent weeks, refused to admit defeat in the PalTalk tussle.

"Nothing has changed," AOL Time Warner spokeswoman Kathy McKiernan wrote in an AIM interview. "They have been blocked, and if they are intermittently reconnecting with the service, that is par for the course. It's often a cat-and-mouse situation."

PalTalk and Trillian are only the latest IM providers to offer access to AIM buddy lists. AOL has found itself working to block MSN Messenger and Yahoo Instant Messenger, as well as smaller IM players, for years.

The media giant, which has pledged to make its systems interoperable through a standard being ironed out by the Internet Engineering Task Force, says that the improvised interoperability efforts compromise IM security.