Google mail renamed?
The name Gmail is under threat from various companies because Google didn’t trademnark it before the announcement. The search giant is fourth in line to be considered for ownership of the trademark name, Gmail, according to filings with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Because the office considers applications in the order they were filed, Google could be forced to change the name of its email service in a worst-case scenario.
Google doesn’t think that will happen. “We are confident in our right to use the trademark Gmail,” Google spokesman Steve Langdon said.
The company announced Gmail on 1 April with much fanfare and registered the trademark six days later. But between 30 March and 7 April, three other parties filed for rights to the name, and they could be considered beforehand.
Google has mentioned the possibility of losing trademarked names for various products in its IPO prospectus under “risk factors”.
“We have also been notified by third parties that they believe features of certain of our products, including Google WebSearch, Google News and Google Image Search, violate their copyrights,” according to the filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. “Our unregistered trademarks include: AdSense, AdWords, Blogger, Froogle, Gmail, I’m Feeling Lucky and PageRank.”
Among the three parties that registered for the Gmail trademark was a company by the name of Cencourse, based in Miami, Florida, which filed on 31 March. Cencourse’s service is for the “delivery and storage of messages, data and information by electronic transmission over the global computer networks and mobile phones”.
Precision Research, based in Santa Barbara, California, filed for rights to Gmail on 2 April. It claims to have a service for transferring email messages for groups of two or more people by means of a global computer network. Shane Smith, CEO of Independent International Investment Research in London, registered the name the following day.
The Gospel Music Association, of Tennessee, filed to register GMAil on 8 April, to represent its email newsletter about Christian and gospel tunes.
Today the story “Google has lost the right to the Gmail trademark in the UK. Starting today, the Gmail service will be known as Googlemail.” has come out. The search giant, which first launched Gmail back in April 2004, has voluntarily decided to cede the trademark to Independent International Investment Research (IIIR).
IIIR, which registered the trademark Gmail in the time between Google’s webmail launch and the search firm’s own attempt to trademark the Gmail name, was one of a number of companies to register the name with the US patent office.
Google said IIIR “contacted us in June 2004 and claimed rights to ‘Gmail’ and sought a ‘business solution’; in other words, they wanted money”. Although no official figure has been put on IIIR’s request, Google’s spokeswoman described the sum as “exorbitant”.
In a recent report from IIIR on the name dispute, however, the company said it “considers the proposals it made to Google for settlement of this matter to be fair and reasonable to both parties”. In a valuation of the Gmail trademark conducted in a draft discussion document in December 2004, IIIR set the brand’s worth at between £25m and £34m although the firm later said it would settle for a considerably lower sum.
Some people have very quick reactions to commercial opportunities. They should settle and get some money out of it, rather than lose the chance in the courts.