When Google launched Gmail in Germany in 2005, it was quickly barred from using the Gmail name for its email product there. German entrepreneur Daniel Giersch, after all, had registered the ‘G-mail’ trademark (short for Giersch mail) for his physical and electronic mail service in Germany in 2000, long before Google had even announced its own service. Instead of ‘Gmail,’ German Internet users who wanted to use Gmail had to go to googlemail.com. Google tried to appeal this decision, but ran out of legal options in 2007, after Europe’s Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market rejected its appeal. For a long time, it seemed like that was the end of the story, but last week Google quietly settled its dispute with Giersch. According to Germany’s GoogleWatchBlog, the gmail.de domain and the Gmail trademark were transferred to Google on April 13.
Neither Google nor Giersch have commented on whether money was exchanged in this transfer, though it seems unlikely that Giersch would have just transferred the domain to Google without some compensation. In 2006, Giersch claimed that Google had offered him $250,000 for the German trademark rights to the Gmail name.
It’s not clear if Google will now change the official address of its email service in Germany to Gmail.de. It’s worth noting, though, that German Gmail users were already able to use @gmail.com and @googlemail.com interchangeably.
After a similar trademark dispute in England was settled, though, Google quickly made this switch. There, the company also offered its users the option to change their existing email addresses from @googlemail.com to @gmail.com.