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 Google: Setback in European battle for Gmail

Google's e-mail service is known as "Gmail" in all European countries, except for Germany (the district court in Hamburg handed Giersch victories at both the preliminary and final stages of the litigation, see Update 33) and the United Kingdom, where it goes by "Google Mail" as a result of trademark disputes in those countries.

In a January 23, 2007 ruling, the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM), the body which is responsible for European community trademarks, has ruled that Google cannot register "Gmail" across Europe, as the name is similar to Daniel Giersch's registered trademark, which translates as "G-mail ... and the Post really takes off." "The high degree of similarity between the marks leaves little room for small differences to be observed by the general public," the Office said. Google could appeal the decision, up to the highest regional court, the European Court of First Instance.

After the ruling, Giersch announced lawsuits to defend more recent registrations of the trademark in Switzerland, Norway and Monaco.

Text of the decision




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