Napster.FM: It’s not what you think. Or that other thing. But it is getting sued.

napster not exactly 160wNapster — one of the most loved, loathed, and lasting brands in the history of online music.

First, the infamous unauthorized file-sharing platform that put MP3 on the mainstream map as an audio file format. Second, as a renovated legal service struggling to gain traction. Now, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rhapsody, the godfather of subscription-stream online services, representing the parent company in Europe and South America.

But the Napster brand is also (audaciously) being used by Ryan Lester, a college student taking some time off for personal projects. Lester has put up Napster.FM, implicitly arguing that a brand’s trademark does not extend across top-level domains — dot-com and dot-fm, for example. that presumption doesn’t hold much water for Rhapsody … or for U.S. District Judge Charles A. Breyer, who rejected Lester’s effort to get the case removed from Breyer’s court.

The Napster.FM service did not work during our visit. The main service features appear to be using YouTube’s API to provide music, and the ability to eavesdrop on the streams of other users. Sounds like fun. We’re not lawyers, but our informal advice to Ryan Lester is to cede the argument, drop the defense, and start up with a unique name.

Brad Hill