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Gmail Suffers German Travails

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An all-but-final loss of the Gmail trademark case in Germany and a newly-passed law on retaining personal information on its users has Google’s email service reeling.


Gmail Suffers German Travails
Gmail Suffers German Travails

Google might take its Gmail bat and ball, and go home. The company has faced a couple of recent setbacks with Gmail in Germany. Google could shutter the service there in the wake of those events.

A long-running trademark battle between Google and Daniel Giersch ended in victory for the German venture capitalist. CNET said a German appeals court ruled against Google.

Google had to rename Gmail to Googlemail in the United Kingdom to satisfy trademark claims there.

More bad news from Germany came in the form of new legislation. Google Blogoscoped said a newly passed law on record-keeping has Google making noises about pulling Gmail out of the country.

Philipp Lenssen cited Google’s Peter Fleischer and his comments in Heise regarding the law’s provisions, which would require Google to obtain and possibly verify names and addresses for those who wish to sign up for Gmail:

Peter says, "Many users around the globe make use of this anonymity to defend themselves from spam, or government repression of free speech … If the web community won’t trust us with handling their data with great care, we’ll go down in no time."

Peter added that a German-only solution for tighter control of email data isn’t useful in the first place, because people might simply escape to foreign email service providers.

Google faces the prospect of having Germany challenge them to pull Gmail out of the country. How successful that gambit will be depends on how much Google values its prospects in Germany. If they feel success in China or Korea is within reach, Google could opt to focus on those markets and write off Germany as a loss.

Gmail Suffers German Travails
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