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Google loses European GMail trademark battle

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Google has failed to win the right to register the term "Gmail" as a wide-ranging European trademark.

The Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM), the body which is responsible for European community trademarks, rejected Google's appeal after a stiff battle with German-born venture capitalist Daniel Giersch.

Giersch, who has held his trademark for six years, has been fighting this battle since Google launched its email service in 2004. The German entrepreneur founded a same-day mail delivery service called GMail designed to offer a swifter alternative to the Deutsche Post.

Last year, a district court in Hamburg already handed Giersch victories at both the preliminary and final stages of the litigation and Google was ordered to remove all Gmail references from its German service.

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

Google has always argued the two names are not confusingly similar. The company even offered to buy the trademark rights from Giersch for $250,000, but the German entrepreneur declined. He called Google's behaviour "very threatening, very aggressive and very unfaithful".

In 2005, Google also had to rename its Google Mail service in the UK where research firm IIIR claimed "Gmail" for its financial analytics software in an out of court settlement with the search giant. ®

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