After years of being forced to use "@googlemail.com" addresses, Google's users in Germany can now join the rest of the world and embrace "@gmail.com."
"As a German working on the Gmail team, my friends and family back home often ask why they have a @googlemail address instead of @gmail.com," Google engineering director Mark Striebeck wrote today in a company blog post. "Today, I'm happy to announce that is no longer the case: Google Mail is becoming Gmail in Germany."
Google's e-mail troubles in Germany date back to 2005, when the company was forced to switch Gmail to Googlemail over a trademark dispute with venture capitalist Daniel Giersch. Prior to Google using the Gmail name, Giersch had acquired the G-Mail trademark for an electronic postal delivery business known as "Giersch mail." After a protracted legal spat, Google was banned from using the Gmail name, and stuck with Googlemail.
However, back in April, a report from Germany-based blog Google Watch revealed that the Gmail trademark had been transferred to the search giant. Google at the time only confirmed that the trademark litigation was over, but didn't say if it had struck some sort of trademark purchase or licensing deal with Giersch.
In today's post, Striebeck did not provide details on how Google acquired the German trademark. Instead, he focused on logistics, telling people that anyone who joins Gmail in Germany will automatically receive the @gmail.com address. Those with established accounts will be given the choice of sticking with their current address or switching to the new one.
"Once you make the change, you will still receive mail sent to your @googlemail.com address and all of your emails, contacts, and account settings will stay exactly the same," Striebeck wrote. "Plus, you can switch back at any time if you change your mind."
CNET has contacted Google for comment on how it received the Gmail trademark. We will update this story when we have more information.