China Gmail Says To Google: “No Sale”
The owners of the domain Gmail.cn, a top-level domain in China, have offers on the table from Google, but so far they have dug in and refused to sell.
Some of the rougher aspects of internationalization have plagued Google when it comes to domain names. Over the past couple of years, they have fought legal battles in Germany and Britain over Gmail as a trademark.
Google’s current practice of calling it Google Mail in those countries should provide an idea of how Google has fared in those disputes. China could be next if talks with ISM Technologies in Beijing don’t go the search advertising company’s way.
Reuters reported on Google’s tussle with ISM Technologies, which just happens to claim status as the “largest wholesale Internet domain registrar accredited with Chinese government-backed Internet body CNNIC.”
That could indicate a tight political affiliation with Beijing’s leadership. Flinging a lawsuit at ISM Technologies over the trademark rights to Gmail might have repercussions politically for Google.
There is a greater issue at stake that makes it appear Google wants to tread the same waters that Yahoo has in China. Yahoo has operated mail servers where Chinese law can reach them. Journalists have been jailed in China, and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has loudly cited Yahoo’s role in handing over information from its accounts to law enforcement, helping them to imprison three reporters.
Google has been able to avoid this by keeping services requiring registration like Gmail out of China. Pursuing Gmail.cn and placing servers within the country could expose Google to the same situations Yahoo has faced, with the same results and a blistering outcry against the company.