back to article Google's Gmail verboten in Germany

Travelers to Germany will no longer be able to access Google's Gmail the easy way due to the firm's long-running trademark lawsuit with German businessman Daniel Giersch. As from Friday, German Gmail users and travelers in Germany are greeted with the following message: "We can't provide service under the Gmail name in Germany …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds fair

    Sounds like common sense has (for once) prevailed.

    The guy got there first. As for google, well, tough.

  2. Dam

    Well tbh

    Glad google lost the case, would have set a terrible precedent.

    Liking their sense of humour though ;)

  3. Mark Broadhurst

    I know what I think of when I hear Gmail

    but then again I'm a brit so maybe its bigger brand over there.

    Execpt that non of my german colleuges have heard of the other G-mail either.

    Sure he got their first but Gmail is a global name in my humble opionon.

  4. Chris


    I like the fact that the site is marked "BETA" just like Google's has been since inception. It seems four to eight years is not long enough to create a Hotmail clone.

  5. John Bayly
    Thumb Down

    Fair enough that they can't use gmail.

    But for users not be allowed to access from Germany (I've just check by logging on to our server hosted in Germany) is more than a little draconian.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did google offer payment?

    Does anyone know if google offered to pay the Herr geezer for the use of Deutsche Gmail?

  7. Justin Case
    Paris Hilton

    Gotta love it

    You'd need a heart of stone not to laugh!

    Nice to see giant like Google can be brought to its knees.

    Paris - because that's like real near Germany, isn't it?

  8. George Forth


    It's the same in the UK. I'm not quite sure how the German court can stop referring to the German site when accessed in Germany though.

  9. Sam

    Nice to see the little guy win.

    Now, instead of paying all that lawyer money, losing, and looking like twats, why didn't they just bung him a squillion or two for the rights?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Did the world stop spinning?

    I don't think it did.

    I suspect Herr G and google can probably co-exist even if the media gets its smalls in a twist. :)

  11. Jesse
    Gates Horns


    It might have been cheaper than to pay what the gentleman was demanding.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    That's one in the eye

    for the corporate multi national fascitic capitalist blah blah blah...

    I only really commented to put Paris up and point out that I had no doubt many Germans had been in Paris.


  13. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Youthful Zeal Tempered with Experienced Wisdom ..... Now there's a BetaPower

    "Liking their sense of humour though ;)" ...By Dam Posted Tuesday 24th June 2008 15:27 GMT

    Impertinent Cheek, more probably. They are a bit Newbie in the Great Game, aren't they. Some have been Playing Google's Games for Ages.

  14. Tawakalna

    so there's some justice..

    nice to see the little guy winning for a change.

    On a related note (have you covered this yet, El Reg?) a British family are being hounded by the Narnia Company (the US outfit that owns the rights to the CS Lewis novels and films and other merchandising thereof) for purchasing the domain for their kids to use - an intriguing birthday present if a little odd, and for no commercial gain (it cost them 50 quid iirc) But hot-shot lawyers from over the water argue that this is domain-napping and it's rightfully their property because they are the Narnia Company and these poor people should give it up or lose their home etc etc. Kind of makes you feel even less enthusiastic about the films than I already am, and I'm sure Mr Lewis would not have approved of such bully-boy tactics. In fact, i think that's one of the themes of the novels, although the blood-sucking lawyers and beancounters probably missed that aspect.

    apologies if you've already covered this and I missed it.

  15. James O'Brien
    Paris Hilton

    @Did google offer payment?

    IIRC, they did offer him money for the Domain and he basically told them to get bent. Not 100% sure if this was the case since its been a while.

    /Paris because shes clueless as well about how Germany can block as well.

  16. Maurice Shakeshaft
    Thumb Up

    Why does it matter?

    Google lost the battle and were told to take their tanks away. The Man appears to have won on a point of principle and on points of law - good for him. How often does that happen against a megalith!

    The Google eMail service is still available to German users - or have I missed something? - even if it is by a different URL.

    That Google appears to be being a tad churlish is no less than I'd have expected from them in defeat.

  17. Paul R


    I work in the UK, for a big American company (think 3 letters, not IBM, with a history of buggered government contracts ;) ), and our internet proxy is in Germany. So if I go to then I get the message. :(

    Doesn't matter too much though, I always use to access my gmail account, which IIRC has always redirected to anyway.

  18. Geraint Jones
    Paris Hilton

    @ John Bayly

    Did you read the article, or even the message when you checked?

    "If you're traveling in Germany, you can access your mail at"

  19. Matt Thornton

    Nice victory, but...

    Oh for a little integrity... it's great that the little guy won, but I can't help feeling that had I been in his shoes and lucked in to such a name snafflage, then I would have flogged the name, taken the dosh and laughed all the way to the bank.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You don't want to use anything else than anyways -- that's only 1 "s" more than in Germany... (However, although supposed to be encrypted, your account name is still leaked out in HTML over plain HTTP as soon as you do a regular Google search.)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Extraterritoriality FTL.

    Why the fuck does this ruling from a German court make a blind bit of difference to the US/International .com domain? Sure, the guy in Germany got there first, so he's entitled to - but why should he restrain google's actions over in the .com domain? He doesn't do business in the US and the trade mark regimes are different, there's no reason why there can't be two separate businesses with the same name in two different regimes.

  22. Tim

    is it only me or.....

    is Gmail a bit of shit name anyway? everyone seems to be naming things after random objects now anyway. Blackberrys and Gnomes and such pop up.

    it also doesnt fit in with the rest of their nomencature. everything else they do is googlesummat.

    Time for google to rebrand i bit i think. No doubt some bright spark will suggest a swastika as a symbol!

  23. Joe Cooper
    Jobs Horns

    Big corporations

    This isn't actually that unusualy. Similarly, the WWF (world wrestling federation) yielded to the WWF (world wildlife foundation) and changed their name to WWE.

    Also, Apple seems to wind up these situations plenty, including copying their logo and making a product called the iPhone when there was already an iPhone.

    I'm not sure how they keep getting away with it.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    As an American here....

    ...I'm really thinking that I like Germany. Viva la... Deutschland?

    Shit, gotta work on my German. As soon as this country collapses, I might need it.

  25. Webster Phreaky
    Jobs Horns

    Bet those big San Fran Liberals are Spitting up their Ganola!

    I take a wager that Serg moons Deuschland from the Soyuze capsule on his Too Rich Assholes Space Ride.

    Did you know that San Francisco is call the Cereal Bowl of Fruits Nut and Flakes?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spain, Portugal & Switzerland

    Google opened cases against Daniel Giersch in Spain, Portugal and Switzerland, apparently suggesting they would drop those claims if he dropped his cases in the various German regional states. The strong arm tactics have backfired though, as the Swiss case was thrown out.

    I hope Google lose the name throughout Europe, for being such arrogant bullies.

  27. Chris C


    Finally, SOMEONE had the balls to stand up to Google. Not only that, but a court actually exercised common sense! It goes without saying that it did not happen in the US or UK. The sad part to this story is that the person who was rightfully using the trademark had to waste a lot of time and money defending something Google knew it had no right to. They just planned on him caving in like many others would have.

    re: "Well tbh" -- I'm glad you like Google's "sense of humor" here, but I don't. Their sarcastic tone is meant as a poke to, or mockery of, the court ruling. Please note that when Google follows countries' laws it agrees with (say, handing over user information to Chinese authorities), it simply smiles and says "We have to follow the laws". But when there's a law it doesn't agree with, it acts like a spoiled brat.

    re: "I know what I think of when I hear Gmail" -- Not to be rude, but it doesn't matter what you or I think of when we here "gmail". The only thing that matters is that someone was legitimately using that trademark, in the same industry/field, long before Google started using it. It doesn't matter if "Gmail" is used by Google in the rest of the world, either. To force a person or company to give up their trademark because somebody more popular wants to use it instead would not be justice.

    re: "Arf!" -- If is marked "BETA", I would think that it HAS created a Hotmail clone. We all know Microsoft's products and services never leave the beta stage. They simply release the products and let the unsuspecting users be the beta testers without telling them. At least Google is being up-front about it.

    re: "Fair enough that they can't use gmail" -- are you serious? You actually think it would be right (fair and just) to allow Google to use the domain name, and simply not use the text "Gmail"? Do you also think they should be able to use the domain "" or ""? The reason they can't use the domain name is because the domain name itself infringe's Mr Giersch's trademark.

    re: "Did google offer payment" -- that's right, let's start name-calling because someone dares to stand up to the ad-spewing megolomaniacs and defend his lawful trademark. Doesn't he know this is Google, and they should be allowed to do and misappropriate whatever they want? By the way, if he did accept any payment, Google would have gone after him in WIPO for "domain squatting", even though Google didn't even have plans for email in 2000, and with WIPO's track record, they would have handed the domain to Google.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Strange ruling

    Apparently not being allowed to use the name Gmail in germany extends to having to set up IP recognition on your web server to catch everyone from that country to present them a message.

  29. David Pollard

    @ George Forth

    "It's the same in the UK. I'm not quite sure how the German court can stop [them]"

    I don't know either, but it's no bad thing. Provided that at least some appreciable differences exist between different nations' laws then there's an opportunity to change inappropriate or unworkable ones. If they were to be all the same it would be rather more difficult to see the trade-offs of different approaches; and we'd likely end up in a bureaucratic nightmare of regimented stasis.

  30. Hans
    Black Helicopters

    Nice win

    In Germany, it is pretty hard, near impossible, to pay off judges, unlike most other places on the planet, so the courts usually don't act any different if you are google Inc or John Doe ... Justiz! Gerechtigkeit!

    You can even sue the fed gvt and win without any more hassle than suing John Doe - if you have a case (for the folks in the US - obvious for the rest of us)... which other country can claim that? anyone?

    Ei arm Note a Djerman, onnest!

  31. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Seems mostly fair but a bit odd!

    He registered Gmial the name in Germany first. It's his tradename, seems fair than Google can't market a competing service under the same name. - if he registered it, it should be his. If Google registered it first it's theirs.

    But demanding that German domain name servers refuse to resolve the US address to an IP strikes me as unfair restriction on trade.

  32. Andy Worth

    @Mark Broadhurst

    "Sure he got their first but Gmail is a global name in my humble opionon"

    It doesn't matter. In Germany it still violates HIS trademark as he got there first.

    If the ruling went the other way, it'd basically be telling big companies (once again) that they could release something with the same name as a smaller company, make it more popular and then use that as an excuse to blat the little guy out of existence. Unfortunately all too often this happens because the little guy can't afford the cost of going to court.

    I do agree with Matt though, as I can't help but think that I'd have offered to sell them the name for a nice tidy sum.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @Mark Broadhurst

    Are you trying to say that because no German people YOU know have heard of the original G-mail, that you think G-mails entire client base should be forced to change their email addresses...?

    ...Just because Google - who came along 4 years after G-mail started its service - are much more popular and want to take over the domain name?

    Um, no. In this case, Google can stick it. Might is not necessarily right.

  34. John Bayly

    @Geraint Jones

    Did you even read my comment, I said "But for users not be allowed to access from Germany".

    I never mentioned not being able to access ""

    The fact that I mentioned that I logged on to a server in Germany to check the message would imply that I not only read the article, but also that I read the message.

  35. John Bayly
    Thumb Down

    @Chris C

    I Completely dissagree, What you're suggesting is to break the internet so that only certain domains are accessible from certain countries.

    Maybe we should set it up so that the German GMail can use in Germany,

    but Google can use in the US and other countries where they own the trademark.

    Yup, that would make things easier.

    The fact is that the internet is truly international so you'll always have trademark clashes.

    I still think it's great that the German GMail won this, it's just that the banning of domains is an uncomfortable precedent.

  36. Lars
    Thumb Up

    @ Hans

    We here in Denmark have it much the same way thank you very much : o)

  37. Richard Stokoe
    Paris Hilton

    Does it matter?

    Europe is already filled with brands labelled differently across countries. Think Opel vs. Vauxhall, Tracker vs. Balisto, etc. Give it a few months and nobody in Germany will even remember GMail (except as some bloke shuffling packages around...).

    A satin bag of hamsters to the first person to register www.gü though!

    Paris, because she approves of posh fabrics being used to transport rodents.

  38. JohnG

    @Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    '...But demanding that German domain name servers refuse to resolve the US address to an IP strikes me as unfair restriction on trade.'

    No it isn't! Why should Google be able to use this guy's registered trademark in any form?

    If I registered the domain, do you think an American court would agree that I could have customers use it in the US or do you think they would want me to relinquish all domain names with someone else's trademark or tradename?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Did Google Offer Giersch Money?

    According to this:

    Yes, they did... a princely sum of $250,000. However, as Giersch is a muti-millionaire entrepreneur and G-Mail (Giersch-Mail) is 'his baby', then he wouldn't sell for such a measly sum.

    Maybe adding another zero onto the offer would have swayed him?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GM-Script for Redirect

    There's a Greasemonkey Script that does an easy redirect from to, in case you're tired of hacking your hosts file:

  41. Simon B
    Thumb Up

    For once the big BULLY BOYS don't win! Go Germany!

    For once the big BULLY BOYS don't win! Go Germany!

  42. Doug Lynn

    Google could buy the gmail name, they could afford it.

    But they probably don't want to make the pain rich...Offer him twice what is company is worth and buy the gmail name in Germany.

  43. Anonymous Coward


    The bad guys probably only read "The Screwtape Letters" and mistook it for Standard Operating Procedure.

  44. Stevie

    What this really demonstrates

    is that legislational agreement between countries is needed that

    a) recognises the problem exists

    2) has a standard way of going about resolving whether the either of the combatants are legitimate businesses and not just cybersquatting

    &) has teeth in all the nations that do legit business on the net

    As long as national legal systems refuse to deal with the international-while-local nature of the net there will continue to be stupid, silly and expensive problems cropping up when one side or the other's ethics refuse to rise to the challenge of an original innocent misstep and things escalate in the time-honoured way.

  45. Suburban Inmate

    Mybe I'm being pedantic but...

    G-Mail != GMail

    Our Kraut friend called his biz G-Mail, so gets

    The Don't-be-eeeeevil (except dragging some Little Guy through the courts) guys and girls called their offering GMail, so they keep


  46. Wize

    I thought it was just China that censored global sites

    Looks like Germany is trying to take over the world again.

    Can the rest of the world please block all German TLDs please?

  47. Gordon Grant
    Paris Hilton

    And then....

    Hmm glad he won, yeah I have gmail sorry a googlemail e-mail address yeah should redirect you to anyway.

    as for how directs that easy german DNS server has it locked as something else plain and simple

    easy way to check ping it :P with the name from within germany (or some place that uses a german ISP's DNS resolver) and then out with that two different IP's ...

    Paris - because like some people she's clueless sometimes.

  48. Jeff Fox

    Not working on T-mobile UK hotspot

    I'm in a starbucks in somerset, trying to view my gmail account but I keep getting the verboten page. Additionally, every time I try to search or access google, it comes up with results in german (where possible) and it's starting to get a tad annoying! Only seems to be an issue with firefox 3 funnily enough.

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