Google restricts Gmail access in Germany

A 2007 court ruling has resulted in some changes to the way the search company provides its services in Germany, and Google's users were unceremoniously treated to some of those changes beginning late last week.

Google was barred from using the name "Gmail" in Germany as a result of a July 2007 court ruling. That decision found that German businessman Daniel Giersch owned the trademark within that country.

Giersch operates a paid e-mail service within the country called "G-mail." The two sides had been tussling over the name for at least three years, with Google actually changing the name of Gmail in the country to Google Mail back in 2005.

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Now, when attempting to use the gmail.com domain within Germany, users are greeting with a page saying it cannot use the service's American name within the country.

"We can't provide service under the Gmail name in Germany; we're called Google Mail here instead," the message reads. "If you're traveling in Germany, you can access your mail at http://mail.google.com."

A message in smaller text below states that Google is also barred from hyperlinking the URL, meaning users have to type in the Web address manually after receiving the page.

A page depicting what German users attempting to access 'gmail.de' are treated to.

Google's German representatives say that this most recent action was likely not necessary under the terms of the ruling, but that it was taking every possible step to ensure that the Gmail name is not used anywhere on Google's sites within the country.

Gmail -- or in Germany, Google Mail -- e-mail services are in no way affected by the change. They operate in the same way as for any other country, Google stressed.

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