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Google settles Gmail trademark dispute in Germany

Google has settled a dispute that forced it to hand out @googlemail.com addresses to users of its Gmail service in Germany

Google has obtained control of the Gmail trademark in Germany, according to the German trademark office, and the legal battle for the related domain name is also over, according to Google.

When Google introduced Gmail in 2004, it quickly ran into trademark trouble in the U.K. and Germany, where local companies asserted their rights to the Gmail trademark, forcing Google to rebrand its service there as Googlemail.

The U.K. case was settled in 2010, but the German case dragged on until the "Gmail" trademark was transferred from the German company G-mail GmbH to Google last Friday, according to a transfer filing posted by the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA).

"The legal conflicts around the use of the trademark Gmail and respective domains in Germany are terminated," Google spokesman Mark Jansen said in an email.

It remains unclear if Google will rebrand GoogleMail to Gmail in Germany. The company declined to disclose further details of the settlement or its future plans for the brand.

It was Daniel Giersch who registered the name "G-mail" in Germany in June 2000. When Google later launched its webmail service there Giersch successfully sued the company, winning an appeal in 2007 when the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court ruled that Google could not use the "Gmail" trademark in Germany.

Giersch used the name with a black and yellow "G-mail" logo for a mail service that combines e-mail and regular mail, a business he is continuing under the name Quabb. Giersch could not be reached for comment.

Google had similar problems securing the Gmail trademark in the U.K. too, where the London financial research company Independent International Investment Research said it already offered a service under the gmail brand.

In May 2010 the British trademark dispute was resolved, and Google began offering new U.K. users @gmail.com addresses. The details of that settlement were not disclosed.


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