03/29/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Why Europeans Can't Have Gmail

To paraphrase Carl von Clausewitz, economic war is also politics by other means -- especially in the European Union.

As you may have read this week, the Trademark Agency of the European Union, located in Luxembourg, denied Google's bid for the right to use within the EU the name of its popular e-mail program, Gmail. It seems that there is a company in Germany, P1 Private, that offers a service that lets users send files and messages through a central e-mail system -- it's called G-Mail, for its founder Daniel Giersch. G-Mail was created in 2000, Gmail in 2004.

Despite Google's argument that the two services had little to do with one another, that the two logos look very different, and P1 Private's G-Mail logo also includes a tagline that translates as "... and the mail really takes off," the Trademark Agency ruled for P1, saying that there was too great a "likelihood of confusion." In doing so, the agency upheld a similar decision by a lower board in January.

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