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  • (01. January 2010., 10:27:49)

Author Topic: Germany to Google: g-osh, g-et over G-mail trademark already  (Read 3536 times)

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Google has been banned from discussing the Gmail trademark in German courts after trying to win back the rights to the Gmail moniker. In Germany the name "G-mail" is currently owned by thirty-three year old Daniel Giersch, who trademarked it in 2000, four year before Google started its worldwide Gmail e-mail service. Gmail has been known as Google Mail in Germany since 2005 but still uses the "" ending to all Google Mail e-mail addresses since it is, in effect, an international "standard" for the service.
"As far as the Hanseatic Higher Court s concerned, the legal situation is unambiguous to the extent that it has not allowed an appeal to the Federal Court of Justice," said Giersch's lawyer Sebastian Eble, from the office of Preu Bohling & Partners. There are still cases pending in Spain, Portugal, and Switzerland, however, but Giersch and his lawyers hope that the final decision in Germany will discourage Google from trying to use courts in other countries to effect a change that now appears impossible, without a settlement. Yet Giersch says he doesn't want a settlement with Google; he wants them to go away.

In a statement, Daniel Giersch said, "I have made it clear since the beginning that I will never sell the name. I am absolutely convinced of its success. Neither 'Gmail' nor myself are for sale." Giersch currently uses the Gmail name for his own e-mail service, and while there's no word on how successful Giersch's company actually is, the fact remains that he still owns the Gmail trademark which is used in his e-mail addresses ending in "" After viewing his web site, though, it looks like Giersch's Gmail service is actually still in beta testing.

The decision has a lot of people wondering what will happen to current Google Mail users in Germany. The Gmail name has been used since 2004 in a total of 60 countries. I contacted Google to get some more information on what could be expected by current users. Senior legal counsel for Google, Arnd Haller, had this to say of the lawsuit: "While we regret the German court's decision, it will in no way affect our ability to continue to provide web e-mail to our users in Germany. Our German users will continue to use 'Google Mail' and enjoy the same experience as users of Gmail worldwide."

So it looks like there aren't any drawbacks to Gmail in Germany, other than its official title, and users will still be able to hang on to their "" e-mail addresses. As a result of the ruling, however, Google will no longer be able to fight over the Gmail trademark in German courts.

In June, it was rumored that Google was planning to shut down its Google Mail service entirely after arguments with the Bundestag, the national parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany, over Google Mail's ability to provide anonymous e-mail accounts which were rumored to be in violation of Bundestag's Internet surveillance laws. After discussing this with Google, I was told that the rumor stemmed from "a theoretical discussion between [Google's] Global Privacy Counsel and an editor talking about a proposed law in Germany that would ban anonymous webmail addresses." In fact, though, such a law "would make it unreasonably onerous for anyone to provide webmail in Germany." Google has no plans to shut down Google Mail or Gmail.
Ars Technica
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