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Google Loses Gmail Trademark Case

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the ooglemail-coming-soon dept.

Google 293

amigoro writes "A court in Germany today banned Google from using the name 'Gmail' for its popular webmail service following a trademark suit filed by the founder of G-Mail. Daniel Giersch, started using the name G-Mail in 2000, four years before Google released 'Gmail'. "Google infringed the young businessman's trademark that had been previously been registered," said the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court in its judgement."

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gnuMail (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19748989)

They should call it gnuMail because it is licensed under the GPL.

Where are the trolls? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749137)

I was waiting for some to suggest gnaaMail

sort of makes me wish (0)

wawannem (591061) | more than 7 years ago | (#19748999)

that I had ebayed my gmail account... I wonder if google will be changing the domain name.

Re:sort of makes me wish (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749169)

What makes your Gmail account auctionable?

Re:sort of makes me wish (4, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749183)

Bill.Gates@gmail.com

Re:sort of makes me wish (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749881)

Does yours get spammed a lot?

I keep getting spam for new furniture and chair repair...
--
Steve.Ballmer@gmail.com

Re:sort of makes me wish (5, Funny)

j0nkatz (315168) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749981)

I get spammed a lot on mine from shampoo and soap sales.

richard.stallman@gmail.com

Re:sort of makes me wish (1)

kusanagi374 (776658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19750051)

Mine will sell faster, since its the new trend!

Carlos.Slim@gmail.com

Re:sort of makes me wish (1)

wawannem (591061) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749249)

Well, I don't know that it is necessarily very auctionable, but I was one of the people to get an early invite. I got to pick a name when a bunch were still available. I picked techgeek <@> gmailNOSPAM.com. It's not as cool as some of the emails that went on ebay in the beginning before google put a stop to auctioning the accounts, but I figured it was a good one.

While we are talking about it, I would like for everyone that is reading this to quite using my account to sign up for services. This account is getting a few hundred spam messages per day. I thought it would be a good idea to get a cool name on a service that I knew would become popular, but it seems like it is now on every single spam list in the world!

Re:sort of makes me wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749311)

Well, it's probably still better than spamMePlease@gmail.com, no?

Re:sort of makes me wish (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749485)

Actually, if you had spamMePlease@gmail.com, the automated email scrapers that people use to assemble these lists would probably assume the 'spam' had been added in as an anti-spam mechanism, and MePlease@gmail.com would end up getting all your spam...

Re:sort of makes me wish (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749633)

It's good I never tried PleaseSpamMe@gmail.com

Re:sort of makes me wish (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749543)

Not anymore, apparently [slashdot.org]

Re:sort of makes me wish (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749487)

Let me help you with that typo: techgeek@gmail.com [mailto] . A very nice address it is, and I'd be happy to bid $0.75 if it is spam free.

Sort of makes me wish... (0, Troll)

trippeh (1097403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749845)

...you had some self-control.
I mean, it's all very well opening it up to the /. funsters, such as they are, but letting the bots in? I mean, come on! At least offer up your own spam account as a sacrifice.

Re:sort of makes me wish (1)

eskwayrd (575069) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749513)

  1. Advertise e-mail address in public, indexable, forum.
  2. "Too much spam."
  3. Priceless.

Re:sort of makes me wish (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749999)

techgeek@gmail.com

I'm an asshole!

Legitimate Case? (4, Insightful)

GizmoToy (450886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749009)

Sounds like the guy had a legitimate case. I'm sure that it cost him a fortune to defend a suit against Google. I'm surprised Google thought they could win this one. Isn't case law in this area pretty strong? Nissan.com I think is the traditional example.

Re:Legitimate Case? (5, Insightful)

fosterNutrition (953798) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749111)

I agree, it sounds to me like the issue is completely in Mr. Giersch's favour. Apparently the courts thought so too:

"As far as the Hanseatic Higher Court is concerned, the legal situation is unambiguous to the extent that it has not allowed an appeal to the Federal Court of Justice"

What bothers me about this issue, though is the following:

Google has filed lawsuits against Giersch in Spain, Portugal and Switzerland.

"Google has announced, at least in writing, to 'fight' my client abroad for as long as it takes before he drops the legal claims lodged in Germany," Eble confirmed.
In other words, the case seems completely in the German fellow's favour, both from a common-sense point of view (G-Mail versus GMail, started using it four years earlier), and from a legal point of view (see the court decision quoted above), yet Google is still fighting the issue. As much as I love the GMail service, I have got to say that to me, this reeks of big money betting they can wear this guy down. He can't afford to retain a lawyer for ever, and I'm sure they know that. Hardly not evil, Google.

Re:Legitimate Case? (4, Insightful)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749207)

Hardly not evil, Google.
The funny thing here is that as long as this legal battle continues, more and more people learn about the young businessman's services, while at the same time Google's reputation as a "do no evil" company is challenged. I can't see any profit for Google here, monetary or otherwise. I wonder why they continue pursuing this case. Furthermore, the name they chose for their email services is wrong. GMail says nothing. They should have made it GoogleMail, since this would allow people unfamiliar with the service to quickly apply Google's reputation on GoogleMail. Surprisingly as it may seem, there are A LOT of people who do use the Internet and still do not know about GMail. But I'm sure they would know it better if it was named GoogleMail, since most Internet users have at least heard of Google.

Re:Legitimate Case? (2, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749261)

why does any super rich company waste their time? ego. the top guys don't like to be told what to do, because once you have all the money you will ever need, there's nothing but ego to fight for.

Re:Legitimate Case? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749367)

I think you fail to take into account the arrogance of corporations, especially marketing companies like google. You have got marketdroid types who think they control public opinion, every body else is stupid and only they are smart because they think they can get us to believe any lies they want to tell.

Google is just showing itself to be more and more the company that for marketing purposes it is pretending not to be, I wonder how many of his private details that fellow in Germany would be willing to hand over to google now.

Gnome had better watch out, their predilection for the letter 'G' makes them a definite target for future legal hostilities.

Re:Legitimate Case? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19750003)

I'm willing to sacrifice Gnome, they haven't done much for me....or anyone for that matter

At least Googles software is usable and not designed by a 12 year old

Re:Legitimate Case? (5, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749661)

If 10 years ago someone told me the biggest company on the internet would be an advertising agency that used the phrase "do no evil" and people believed them I would have said they were on crack. Alas, it seems to be the case.

Re:Legitimate Case? (0, Troll)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749229)

The benefit to society in this case is greater if Google is allowed to keep the name, simply because asking 5 million people to change their email addresses would be asinine. Damages should be awarded but no harm should be inflicted on users because of this man's claim.

Re:Legitimate Case? (4, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749293)

the benifit to society is greater? who gives a fuck? personal property is not society's to control, or are you a dirty commie?

Re:Legitimate Case? (1)

omfgnosis (963606) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749753)

Say what you want about property rights, but when (hypothetically, and I don't think this hypothetical situation applies to Google mail) a person's property rights means curtailing others' rights, it's a compromise. Is property a universal trump card to you? Seems pretty misanthropic.

Re:Legitimate Case? (5, Informative)

mulvane (692631) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749307)

Sadly, I agree with you at the same time I disagree. Google being the type of company it is surely was aware of G-Mail before they ever even launched gmail and were betting the odds nothing would happen. surely they thought this guy would concede to the great do no evil google. I haven't trusted google since they went public. I don't have a gmail account, and I rarely use any google services except for search. Even those I have done through tor and anonymously as I have never signed up for ANY google service. This case goes on to further prove my point and I hope google is forced to change its service name. There is an easy way to do this. google could be allowed used of gmail for one year and all emails sent from a gmail account will autonomously be fixed to send from googlemail.com instead. Any mail sent to gmail will also send a reply back to originator that all future mail should be sent to googlemail instead. No harm done to anyone.

Re:Legitimate Case? (3, Interesting)

munrom (853142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749313)

So we get rid of this guy's legal right because google didn't bother to check that GMail didn't conflict with any trademarks of the markets they entered? It's the guys choice if he wants to sell the name or not. Also why would 5 million users have to change their email address?

Re:Legitimate Case? (1)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749681)

Google is an international corporation. Surely if it can afford to pay an army of lawyers to fight this guy, it could have paid one lawyer before launching Gmail to make sure the name wasn't trademarked.

No excuse.

Re:Legitimate Case? (4, Interesting)

loganrapp (975327) | more than 7 years ago | (#19750065)

Exactly. This was a case of poor planning. Not that hard to go, "okay, let's make sure that gmail isn't taken in all the major NA and European countries. Oh, dude in Germany? Well, let's make him an offer."


Something tells me they could have made an early offer that both parties would have been happy with - I mean, dude could make millions just by luck of naming something with a letter. But instead, Google just goes ahead with it and tries to fix it after the fact. Not necessarily evil, just crappy planning and then a desperate attempt to fix it.

I wonder if they even tried the carrot before they used the stick. Maybe they made an offer and the guy wanted more. No excuse for what they're doing, but I'm curious.

Re:Legitimate Case? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749365)

He can't afford to retain a lawyer for ever, and I'm sure they know that. Hardly not evil, Google.
I'm sure Microsoft or Yahoo could help him out there.

Re:Legitimate Case? (3, Informative)

ozbird (127571) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749789)

What bothers me about this issue, though is the following:

Google has filed lawsuits against Giersch in Spain, Portugal and Switzerland.

"Google has announced, at least in writing, to 'fight' my client abroad for as long as it takes before he drops the legal claims lodged in Germany," Eble confirmed. In other words, the case seems completely in the German fellow's favour, both from a common-sense point of view (G-Mail versus GMail, started using it four years earlier), and from a legal point of view (see the court decision quoted above), yet Google is still fighting the issue.


And? Giersch has proven that his trademark is valid in Germany. Google are within their rights to test it in neighbouring countries to determine whether whatever steps they need to do in Germany (e.g. call in "GoogleMail") also have to be done elsewhere. That in and of itself is not "evil".

Re:Legitimate Case? (2, Interesting)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19750017)

Well, it's not Hitler evil, but it's the same degree of evil that MS is often accused of. Besides, if you're going to stand up on your high horse and say that your motto is "do no evil", than you'd better hold yourself to a higher standard than those who make no such claim.

Re:Legitimate Case? (5, Informative)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749187)

Nissan.com I think is the traditional example.

Quick link to why this is a traditional example:
http://nissan.com/Digest/The_Story.php [nissan.com]

Re:Legitimate Case? (1)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749339)

This is all very nice, but will my gmail account change hands or names?

Re:Legitimate Case? (3, Informative)

josh washington (1104565) | more than 7 years ago | (#19750105)

fordiman@gmail.com [mailto] and fordiman@googlemail.com [mailto]

Try both; supposedly either one will reach your account. And both sites gmail.com and googlemail.com should reach your account to login. So I assume that your "@gmail.com" will be fine.

Plus it only applies to gmail.de unless Google feels like that's enough to redefine the whole GMail trademark globally. Either way, if you're concerned, start referring people to your email @googlemail.com.

Oh yeah, you'll probably want to set a filter for those "mailto"s...

Re:Legitimate Case? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19750011)

I understand that his site has been around LONG before Google's gmail.com, but I don't understand why his site still says 'BETA' on the login bar and in the register screen after all of this time. The 'register' screen says the service is in Beta, only offered in Itzehoe, Germany. And requires a German postal code to confirm you live in Itzehoe.

Maybe it's just slow progress, especially when compared to rival Google. I don't know if he realized the publicity from waiting for Google to press the issue rather than pursuing it himself. I'm pretty sure it has brought him a little sympathy though as the poor defendant facing big business, rather than the stingy bastard screwing with my gmail account name. Either way, he's really lucked out now.

For those who don't speak German, or for those who just appreciate irony, I recommend viewing the site with Google Translate.

I remember checking for TV.COM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749021)

Back around 1990, I was registering a couple of company domain names...going through the (then) magic.
And I though... "I should register some GENERIC domains, just for kicks" ...but I never did...

And I remain, ...poor...

what now (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749029)

this seems to be a fairly localized decision mainly in germany but possibly Switzerland and Spain in the future, so what is going to become of google's email system in these areas? do they look at the IP address to determine where you reside and modify accordingly? what does Google intend to call Gmail in the relevant areas now?

Google has filed lawsuits against Giersch in Spain, Portugal and Switzerland. "Google has announced, at least in writing, to 'fight' my client abroad for as long as it takes before he drops the legal claims lodged in Germany," Eble confirmed. But a court in Switzerland threw out Google's case and now Giersch will file a suit to prohibit Google from using the name in that country.

Re:what now (2, Insightful)

Bibz (849958) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749107)

what does Google intend to call Gmail in the relevant areas now?

How about GoogleMail ?

Re:what now (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749889)

what does Google intend to call Gmail in the relevant areas now?

How about GoogleMail ?
geemail.com *grin*

Remind me... (1)

KeepQuiet (992584) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749051)

I may be wrong but didn't 'froogle' (now product search) die for the same reason?

Re:Remind me... (1)

AnonymousCactus (810364) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749497)

Maybe, at least that example suggests I can keep my email address, as froogle.com still points to Product Search.

Dear Patent and TradeMark office (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749077)

Dear Patent and Trademark office,
Today I would like to register a trademark on
a-mail
b-mail
c-mail
d-mail
e-mail
f-mail
g-mail oops already taken
h-mail
i-mail
j-mail
k-mail
l-mail
m-mail
n-mail
etc. etc.
Now you are all stuck with nm-mail dot com where n and m are two letters of your choosing! bwahahaha

Re:Dear Patent and TradeMark office (1)

fosterNutrition (953798) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749147)

I'm not sure if I'm being taken for a troll-ride here, but I'll bite...

From The Fine Article, and indeed The Fine Summary, it is pretty obvious the guy wasn't just trolling for copyrightable names, and hoping that one day, four years into the future, a large corporation would adopt one of his brands as a name for a flagship product. Not to mention that the "G" probably refers to his name (Girsch-Mail any less catchy?), but also Google clearly thought it was a unique enough name that they would be able to successfully use and legally defend it when they were picking a name for their new email service.

Re:Dear Patent and TradeMark office (1)

ArCh3r (688116) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749763)

Dear Patent and Trademark office,
Today I would like to register a trademark on
a-mail
b-mail
c-mail
d-mail
e-mail
f-mail
g-mail oops already taken
h-mail
i-mail
j-mail
k-mail
l-mail
m-mail
n-mail
etc. etc.
Now you are all stuck with nm-mail dot com where n and m are two letters of your choosing! bwahahaha
Watch it with that i-mail trademark. We all know Steve Jobs and Apple, Inc. own all the words that begin with the letter 'i'.

Smart businessman (2, Interesting)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749119)

This looks like a smart young businessman. Fighting Google instead of selling a name means he gets publicity, and it looks like he is sure that he can turn this publicity into profit for his company and himself. Bad to hear Google preferred to fight him in courts instead of trying to find a way to get him on board. This is the way of big bureaucratic corporations that lack innovation, and I would expect smarter choices from a company that seeks to employ the brightest engineers. I guess such a smart (and resourceful, for being able to withstand so long against a giant) businessman would be an asset if Google could persuade him to join them. Now thanks to this legal battle, more people than previously know about his business, and this is only good for him and I am sure he knows it. I wonder what he is going to release in, say, 5 or 10 years.

Re:Smart businessman (3, Insightful)

chiraz90210 (961309) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749507)

"This is the way of big bureaucratic corporations that lack innovation," Lack innovation? ummmm.... oh well, it's slashdot!

Re:Smart businessman (1)

hax4bux (209237) | more than 7 years ago | (#19750121)

I am guessing you have never been to court.

You have to sell a ton of widgets to feed attorneys.

Better to simply promote your product in the usual way.

Major Suckage (3, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749127)

I sure hope google doesn`t change the name of gmail globally.

I personally use my gmail address for just about everything. It scares me to think about how long it would actually take to go around and change my email address on all the various services I use.

Re:Major Suckage (3, Funny)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749177)

If this case was filled in America, I wouldn't be surprised if the judge reasoned that the "collective rights" of thousands of email users surpassed the rights of a single businessman, even if he started using the name 4 years earlier.

Re:Major Suckage (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749471)

Why? Beacuse the country is run by Furor Bush and Haliburton and Big Business?

Thanks for presenting the slash herd viewpoint. If you are interested in learning the truth about how these cases go down, talk to RIM, Inc. about how such cases get decided 'in America.'

Re:Major Suckage (3, Funny)

Kristoph (242780) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749475)

If this case was filed in America this 'single businessman' would probably be worth a discernible percentage of the NASDAQ.

]{

Re:Major Suckage (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749813)

whats makes you say that? america is far more likely to back business.

Re:Major Suckage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749305)

You like the ambiguity Gmail/gay-male don't you? Major suckage, eh?

Re:Major Suckage (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749413)

You can change the branding while retaining all of the existing data. The only @gmail.xx emails that would likely be affected here are gmail.de. There's no way they'd kill off @gmail.com, though it would be entirely plausible that they'd add in @googlemail.com or something of the same nature were they to change the branding.

googlemail.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749167)

Google actually changed the [domain] name they use in Europe to googlemail.com some time ago. European users are pointed in that direction... I don't know if that is forced though. I got my gmail address before the switchover.

I guess they anticipated losing.

Name change? (3, Informative)

Laukei (1099765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749201)

They call it Googlemail in Germany, and the UK, where the name Gmail was owned by another company. Pre-existing @gmail.com addresses registered by UK users were left as they were, while new signups changed to @googlemail.com.

Banned from using Gmail (1)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749203)

...in Germany.

Americans, happy birthday!

Just wondering... (1, Insightful)

funkdancer (582069) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749227)

Did they try to offer him a big wad of money, say US$50M bucks?
That'd certainly be a lot better way to do it than ruin some poor guy's life with worry over court cases - which incidentally does Google's image no good.

Re:Just wondering... (3, Interesting)

TWDsje (1095947) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749725)

I think the whole reason this came about was because Google tried to offer him cash and he refused saying he's certain his business will do well. Google wouldn't go to court without first trying to see if they can get it for less than it would cost to sue. Sure it gives the guy publicity, but honestly there's going to be a point where he'd be stupid not to sell out. At the same time he sounds pretty set on never selling. Some may call it smart business, but I think he's just kidding himself.

G, Really? (4, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749247)

I'm sure laws like this will change over time. After all in an increasingly global market, you can't afford for your trademark to be diluted by having a different name in each of six different geographical regions. I'm sure that someday the WTO will have something arranged so that the guy producing the most benefit from the trademark will win. If you came up with the trademark (or a copyrighted idea) twenty years ago and are using it to generate a million dollars in business per year, you have to surrender it to the bigger company who comes along and is making a billion dollars per year off of it.

I would think that would fall into the whole imminent domain concept that they use to justify taking part of your property to build a strip mall or expand a road. Likewise, a billion dollars of business in your economy is more important to society than some piddly million dollar business using the same concept or trademark.

Sad, but . . . I think that might be in our future.

Re:G, Really? (4, Insightful)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749691)

I don't know if letting large corporation drive smaller competitors out of business simply by taking their trademarks would be wise.

Spelling (0, Offtopic)

Haxx (314221) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749269)


    Everyone here knows that Google is the wrong spelling for googol 10x100 power right?

Re:Spelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749771)

No shit sherlock. Is Haxx the wrong spelling for hacks?

Re:Spelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19750047)

Is Haxx the wrong spelling for hacks?

It's actually the wrong spelling for "I like to spout out pointless trivia as if it were important."

It's a common typo. The keys are like right next to each other.

Re:Spelling (1)

Haxx (314221) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749823)

It is the wrong spelling, but since I have been using it since 1984 I think it will pass newbie. L8r.

Trademarking a letter is ridiculous (0)

NewsWatcher (450241) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749295)

Does anyone else find it ridiculous that a company, whether it be Google or someone else, thinks they can basically own the rights to a letter in the alphabet. What next, my friend George will get sued and must henceforth be known only as Eorge?

I realise that the case was against "G-Mail" which does bear a similarity to "Gmail" but I see this as the thin end of the wedge. If they didn't want this sort of problem they should have thought more about their name originally.

A lawyer told me once that an application by Nike to register "Air" as a trademark was rejected on the basis that no company could own the rights to one of the four ancient elements. I don't see much difference to owning one of the letters of the alphabet.

Re:Trademarking a letter is ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749337)

"Pod" is also collection of peas, but Apple owns iPod.

Re:Trademarking a letter is ridiculous (1)

NewsWatcher (450241) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749381)

It is also true that Apple owns Apple. I find it pretty ridiculous that the world has lost a fruit to the corporate world, and that a place that sells apples, could find themselves sued if they have this fact in their business name.

Re:Trademarking a letter is ridiculous (2, Interesting)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749429)

Only if the apple store would compete in something like the IT or multimedia business.

A windows cleaner service won't be put in a legal minefield with Microsoft, for example.

Sometimes these lines are blurred, and sometimes companies intentionally try to cross these lines, but I doubt Apple would be able to get a lawsuit of an apple store through.

One example that became a real case in court was the Apple Corps vs Apple one, but in that case it was because both shared a field of business (music entertainment).

Re:Trademarking a letter is ridiculous (4, Insightful)

jkabbe (631234) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749437)

It is also true that Apple owns Apple. I find it pretty ridiculous that the world has lost a fruit to the corporate world, and that a place that sells apples, could find themselves sued if they have this fact in their business name.

Remember that trademarks are restricted to a line of business. Apple can be used to sell computers [apple.com] , vacations [applevacations.com] , and music without any problem (at least until the first Apple started selling music!). I doubt any of those companies would be successful in shutting down a grocery seller using the name apple (barring other factors that might confuse consumers).

Re:Trademarking a letter is ridiculous (1)

SimGuy (611829) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749441)

Trademarks can coexist in separate areas of business.

Re:Trademarking a letter is ridiculous (1)

totally bogus dude (1040246) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749457)

Not really. If you sell apples, you're not even remotely in the same business and don't have anything to worry about from Apple Computers or from Apple Records.

Re:Trademarking a letter is ridiculous (1)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749683)

Actually, they don't. In fact, they weren't even the first company to trademark the word, Apple Corps began in 1968 and the two have been going at it in lawsuits ever since then whenever Apple Inc (the computer company) starts selling something related to music.

Re:Trademarking a letter is ridiculous (4, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749387)

Does anyone else find it ridiculous that a company, whether it be Google or someone else, thinks they can basically own the rights to a letter in the alphabet.

In trademarks, they are never trademarking only parts of the name, but the full name. Google is not trademarking "G", but "Gmail". They can't trademark "mail", but again, it's the full sequence of letters that is.

Re:Trademarking a letter is ridiculous (1)

NewsWatcher (450241) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749505)

I think you will find that McDonalds has pursued several high-profile lawsuits against companies who dare to put the prefix "Mc" on their name.

Re:Trademarking a letter is ridiculous (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749433)

Yeah, it is totally ridiculous. In fact IBM is using THREE letters so they are triply as bad!

Re:Trademarking a letter is ridiculous (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749435)

A lawyer told me once that an application by Nike to register "Air" as a trademark was rejected on the basis that no company could own the rights to one of the four ancient elements.
Orange tried to do the same thing, but failed, because you can't trademark a color. Funny enough, they did send out letters in the Netherlands to website's with orange in their name threatening them with legal action (regardless of not having a trademark).

Re:Trademarking a letter is ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749467)

I call dibs on A-, B-,..., F-, H-, .. and ZMail.

Re:Trademarking a letter is ridiculous (1)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749621)

Actually G-mail/Gmail is 5 letters, not one. Thats what was trademarked, not the letter it began with.

Giersch will give in (1)

TWDsje (1095947) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749331)

I think this guy is full of it when he says it's not for sale. What he's really saying is "I'm going to drag this on as long as I need to until you pay me enough." Certainly there will come a point when the guy will realize he'd have to be stupid to pass up so much money that could benefit his company far more than the name Gmail ever could.

iMail? (2, Funny)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749345)

I think I'm going to register iMail as a trademark,. . . and then sue Apple when they launch their new iPhone/iMac/iBook/iPod/iNausea email service! ;-)

Re:iMail? (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749483)

That might work--if you can make a plausible effort to create a business around it. Also, there is the little problem that mac.com already exists.

Where? (3, Interesting)

Raere (735369) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749357)

So, does this only happen in Germany, or is Google banned from using Gmail internationally?

now what about iGoogle? (1)

ManoSinistra (983539) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749421)

I thought that Apple had trademarked the small letter "i" in front of product names... I thought for sure there would be some sort of battle over "iGoogle."

Re:now what about iGoogle? (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 7 years ago | (#19750049)

I seriously think that "Google Homepage" was much better.
What the hell does iGoogle even mean? I stopped using it the moment they changed the name, it bothered me that much. (the little i thingy is also why I have never bought anything from Apple that started with an i... I have a Mac Mini, though -- even though I despise the OS. Thank $genericReligiousOverlordHere for rEFIt [sf.net] )

what's the point? (1, Interesting)

AnonymousCactus (810364) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749445)

I get the point of, say, not letting someone use the name GMail or Google to setup their own email or search service because they'd be unfairly profiting from Google's name. What's the point in not letting Google take a service that was launched out of the U.S. and extend it to Germany? Granted, it's bad for this guy's business, but it's not like Google is unfairly profiting from his trademark.

Also, what affect does this have for Google in the U.S.? I mean, it's theirs in the U.S., right?

Finally, I presume this is the guy's site: http://www.gmail.de/ [gmail.de]

Close it down! (-1, Flamebait)

dinther (738910) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749455)

This is stupid. The german company is called g-mail with a hyphen. So they should use the domain g-mail.de not gmail.de

When did this guy actually register the domain name? Also 4 years ago?

If I were Google I would simply shut down Google.de and the German GMail and give the whole country the big old middle finger. I bet it would only take months for local public pressure to force g-mail to get out of the way of the real Google GMail.

Re:Close it down! (3, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749567)

If I were Google I would simply shut down Google.de and the German GMail and give the whole country the big old middle finger. I bet it would only take months for local public pressure to force g-mail to get out of the way of the real Google GMail.

That is not how it works. The guy owns the trademark and Google is infringing. There is also no appeal, because the case is obvious. The only way for Google to get this resolved is to convince the trademark-owner. Public opinion and/or pressure does not play any role here.

Re:Close it down! (2, Insightful)

ForumTroll (900233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749629)

If I were Google I would simply shut down Google.de and the German GMail and give the whole country the big old middle finger. I bet it would only take months for local public pressure to force g-mail to get out of the way of the real Google GMail.
Tactics like this don't work in the real world. That would be nothing short of a publicity nightmare for Google and would force people in other countries to seriously question whether they should be relying on such a service. Do you honestly think that the people running Google haven't thought about that and come to the conclusion that it would be far worse for them in the long run?

It's the exact same argument that is brought up regularly regarding Microsoft in the EU. "Microsoft should just pull out of the EU instead of paying all the fines. That'll show 'em!!!11"

Re:Close it down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749701)

The german company is called g-mail with a hyphen. So they should use the domain g-mail.de not gmail.de
Err.. wrong? They should register their domain as whatever the hell they want to. If there was no IP being infringed upon when the domain was registered, then there's no case. The domain name was actually registered at least 6 years ago:
http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://gmail.de [archive.org]

The current service was up as early as 2005:
http://web.archive.org/web/20051104021658/http://w ww.gmail.de/ [archive.org]

Remember - all Google did themselves anyway was simply buy the gmail.com domain from someone else who was using it -
http://web.archive.org/web/19961223105823/http://w ww.gmail.com/ [archive.org]

As one poster said, Google seem to think they have a right to everything that begins with a G. So why didn't they want to buy it out in this case? Obviously, because the value of the domain name has sky-rocketed, especially in prime-real estate like Germany. I bet you won't see them raising an eye-brow over http://gmail.co.za/ [gmail.co.za] - Gardale Solutions, Cape Town.

It's all about the money. Stop pretending like it's got anything to do with what's "right".

I bet it would only take months for local public pressure to force g-mail to get out of the way of the real Google GMail.
Why, because you think Germans care more about American companies than German locals? Lets view this the other way around - do you care more about German companies than American businesses? Stop being so naive.

+BlackD

Re:Close it down! (4, Funny)

Balthisar (649688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749703)

If I were Google I would simply shut down Google.de and the German GMail and give the whole country the big old middle finger. I bet it would only take months for local public pressure to force g-mail to get out of the way of the real Google GMail.

And if I were the entire automotive industry, I'd refuse to do business in California!

This doesn't actually affect anyone who uses Gmail (2, Informative)

santiago (42242) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749687)

gmail.com and googlemail.com are the same place. If you get an address on either, you can receive mail on both and check your mail on both. All that happens is that based on which country you're in, you'll get redirected around and wind up with a slightly different logo in the top left. That's it.

This is great news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19749731)

This is great news!

Do no evil???? (1, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749751)

Yeah goes to show how much you can trust any large corporation to stick to their corporate slogan.

Re:Do no evil???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19750119)

And how exactly did Google not stick to their slogan? Because I'm SO SURE they looked at gmail.de and said "hey, let's screw that guy over."

trademark belongs to... (-1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19749891)

In all areas of trademark law, the semantics are vague on purpose. Trademarks belong to whomever can defend them.

I'm very surprised google lost this one.
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