August 13, 2004 3:42 PM PDT

Gmail by any other name?

In another for the "whoops" file, Google risks losing trademark rights to the name of its Web-based e-mail service, Gmail.

The search giant is fourth in line to be considered for ownership of the trademark name, Gmail, according to filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Because the office considers applications in the order they were filed, Google could be forced to change the name of its e-mail service in a worst-case scenario.

Google doesn't think that will happen. "We are confident in our right to use the trademark Gmail," Google spokesman Steve Langdon said.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company announced Gmail on April 1 with much fanfare and registered the trademark six days later. But between March 30 and April 7, three other parties filed for rights to the name, and they could be considered beforehand.

Google has mentioned the possibility of losing trademarked names for various products in its IPO prospectus under "risk factors."

"We have also been notified by third parties that they believe features of certain of our products, including Google WebSearch, Google News and Google Image Search, violate their copyrights," according to the filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Our unregistered trademarks include: AdSense, AdWords, Blogger, Froogle, Gmail, I'm Feeling Lucky and PageRank."

Google is facing many challenges on the eve of its scheduled initial public offering. The company opened bidding for its shares Friday and expects to price the stock next week, within a range of between $108 and $135. But as the date approaches, several slips have occurred.

In one example, Playboy magazine released an issue featuring a lengthy interview with Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, a media event that could cause the SEC to delay the offering. Google revised its IPO prospectus on Friday to add the article, arguing that the interview should not have violated its mandatory "quiet period." The company also recently gave details about a recision offer for shares it failed to register with the SEC in the last three years.

Murky details about the unorthodox, Dutch auction-style IPO also have cast doubt about investor demand.

Among the three parties that registered for the Gmail trademark was a company by the name of Cencourse, based in Miami, Fla., which filed March 31. Cencourse's service is for the "delivery and storage of messages, data and information by electronic transmission over the global computer networks and mobile phones."

Precision Research, based in Santa Barbara, Calif., filed for rights to Gmail on April 2. It claims to have a service for transferring e-mail messages for groups of two or more people by means of a global computer network. Shane Smith, CEO of Independent International Investment Research in London, registered the name the following day.

The Gospel Music Association, of Tennessee, filed to register GMAil on April 8, to represent its e-mail newsletter about Christian and gospel tunes.

InternetNews first reported the story.

6 comments

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How about one for the underdog?
Believe it or not, I had all of these companies beat by about 6 months. About a year ago, I began using the term, "Gmail" for my site, ChronicGeeks.com. It was an internal messaging system for all of the geeks registered at Chronicgeeks.com to communicate with.

It never occured to me to go in for a patent or a trademark or anything ... so, serves me right. It doesn't mean I wasn't pissed when Google (and, it looks like everyone else) went and used the same name, too. I sent them an e-mail about it, but I never got a reply.

Damn the man.
Posted by (8 comments )
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Umm yah.
OK you all but admit its your fault for screwing up. There isn't anything that Google is doing that is illegal or immoral. Google + Mail = G-Mail. Simple. Its not like the are going out of their way to screw you or anyone else over.

So please give the underdog routine a rest. If anything Google IS the underdog. They are fighting to get an infrastructure in place before Microsoft and their 60 billion in the bank come crashing down on them like a tsunami and Yahoo is licking close at Googles heels at this point so even though they may be a big time search engine site its not like they arent skating on REALLY thin ice. Holding a grudge against a company that is trying to make use of its name to get a competitive advantage against MS and Yahoo. Ya damn those evil google bastards. ;-)
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
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Morons
Whoever the idiot who forgot to trademark\copyright\whatever the name before the announcement should be fired. Period. End of story. You KNOW that Google is going to have to pay off all 3 other squatters for the name. I mean do you think it was just chance that just after the announcement they tried to snatch it up? Expect a few million a piece for someone's lack of paying attention to the details. Again someone should lose their job because of this.
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
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Credit where its due
Im tending to cut them some slack on this one.. yeah someone dropped the ball but I dont think Google is doing too bad considering how young the company is and how inexperienced its leaders are.

Mistakes happen and its going to cost them sure but at least they'll learn.

And I for one wouldnt like to see some poor guy get fired because his boss gave him vague instructions or failed to mention that they needed to get the application sent in.

In my opinion something as important as a trademark or copyright is not something you can just delegate and forget. If the management wasnt following it closely then they are to blame more than anyone.
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
Link Flag
well I think we can work somthing out about my page.
Posted by blingin93 (2 comments )
Link Flag
why are people not writing me yet
Posted by blingin93 (2 comments )
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