Google In Gmail Name Dispute
A British research company is threatening to use legal action against Google for their right to use the GMail name.
The company in question, Independent International Investment Research, launched a web-based email service also called G-Mail in May 2002, almost 2 years before Google launched their version. IIIR specializes in research for several investment banks and requested the development of G-Mail in order for their clients to share this information confidentially.
Before IIIR initiated the legal portion of their trademark defense, company representatives spent 15 months discussing the GMail issue with Google. IIIR representatives broke off these talks, saying the search engine failed to respect the intellectual property rights of other companies.
According to a report appearing in the Times Online, IIIR chief executive Shane Smith is reluctant to pursue legal avenues against Google because of cost concerns. However, Smith also says:
I feel it is up to me as the founder and the major shareholder. We’re not going to sit on the sidelines while a company uses our intellectual property rights. We’re confident that we have the funding available to us and we’re girding our loins…
The report goes on to reveal IIIR is considering combining resources with a German company who is going to a similar trademark dispute with Google. In a press release detailing their position to their stockholders, IIIR says:
That balance has now shifted, with the recognition that, despite strenuous efforts, achievement of a settlement involving agreement on a fair value is currently out of reach. Your Board has not been able to reach a settlement with Google and is therefore considering taking further legal action to protect the Group’s intellectual property.
At this time, Google has not issued a response to IIIR’s claims.