Google loses Gmail trademark appeal in Europe

"There is a likelihood of confusion," says agency, concluding the mark is too similar to the G-mail trademark owned by German businessman.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills

A European body has again told Google that it cannot have trademark protection to use the Gmail mark throughout the European Union.

Google's mark. Google
Giersch's mark. P1 Private GmbH

The European Union's trademark regulation agency denied Google's appeal in late February. The ruling concluded that the mark is too similar to the G-mail trademark owned by German businessman Daniel Giersch. Giersch runs an electronic postal delivery business that goes by the name G-mail, which is short for "Giersch mail."

"There is a likelihood of confusion," the agency wrote.

Google representatives in the U.S. did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. Bloomberg reported that Kay Oberbeck, a spokesperson in Europe, said in an e-mailed statement that the company was disappointed with the ruling. It was unclear whether Google would appeal.

The trademark regulatory agency's lower board denied Google's request in January 2007.

Google changed the name of its free Web-based e-mail service to "GoogleMail" in Germany after losing to Giersch in court there and in Switzerland. Google also uses the "GoogleMail" name in the U.K. as a result of a complaint there.