Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009 | 5:48 p.m.
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A Web site owner on Wednesday denied allegations in a lawsuit that his www.newyorknewyork.com Internet site was infringing on the trademarks of the New York-New York hotel-casino in Las Vegas.
Ronnie Katzin of Tarzana, Calif., who was sued by the hotel-casino last week, said that after learning of the lawsuit he removed from the Web site an image of the Las Vegas hotel.
Katzin said he obtained the Web site name in about 1996, before the Las Vegas property opened. He obtained the domain name as part of a plan for a site promoting New York City, he said.
The name relates to the Frank Sinatra song, not the Las Vegas hotel, he said.
"I have a passion for creating a New York City site," Katzin said.
Assertions by New York-New York hotel-casino in the lawsuit that it contacted the domain name owner with its concerns don't apply to him, but to a company that hijacked the name and used it between 2004 and 2006, Katzin said.
Katzin said that prior to learning of the lawsuit, he was unaware the Las Vegas hotel and its owner MGM Mirage had a problem with the site.
"I had no knowledge this was something they were frowning upon," he said.
He felt he was doing the New York-New York hotel-casino a favor by including the hotel image on the site, since many users of the site reached it mistakenly thinking they were going to the hotel-casino's official site, Katzin said.
Katzin said that the image of the hotel-casino linked to a room-booking engine operated by Expedia's Interactive Affiliate Network. He said that since Interactive Affiliate Network has a deal to sell MGM Mirage rooms, the link was authorized.
He added that an MGM Mirage official, whom he refused to identify, had at one point said such a link would be authorized once the Interactive Affiliate Network started booking rooms for MGM Mirage.
Katzin's Web site on Wednesday still allowed users to book rooms throughout the country. In Las Vegas, properties showing up on a search for Dec. 2 included those owned by both MGM Mirage and competitors.