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GMail Returns to UK As Google Settles Patent Dispute

Gordon Kelly


GMail Returns to UK As Google Settles Patent Dispute

After five years Brits can once again sign up for Gmail addresses...

In a short blog post Gmail software engineer Greg Bullock explained: "Google Mail is soon becoming Gmail again in the UK. If you already have a Google email account in the UK, you'll soon have the option to switch your existing @googlemail.com address to the matching @gmail.com one, but you're also free to stick with @googlemail.com. And starting later this week, anybody who signs up for a new account in the UK will get an @gmail.com address."

What Bullock doesn't say is why we haven't had Gmail addresses for so long? In short: because Google was tight. Back in 2005 courts ruled that Independent International Investment Research had a patent for the Gmail name in the UK which Google had been infringing since the service first launched on 21 March 2004.

Google was given the chance to buy the rights for £25m, but declined. It also had to withdraw the brand in Germany for similar reasons, but there is no news of a Gmail return there as yet. What Google does tells us, however, is "Since "gmail" is 50% fewer characters than "googlemail," we estimate this name change will save approximately 60 million keystrokes a day. At about 217 microjoules per keystroke, that's about the energy of 20 bonbons saved every day!"

Thanks, but we'd have rather known the legal details...


Via The Official Gmail Blog


May 4, 2010, 7:12 pm

"Thanks, but we'd have rather known the legal details... "

Actually I think the bonbon/electrical waste is marginally more interesting than the legal mumbo jumbo.


May 4, 2010, 7:16 pm

Haha, fair enough. I'd rather know if the patent ran out, Google paid the company off - etc, etc ;)


May 4, 2010, 7:20 pm

Gordon, can you find out something please? At the moment googlemail and gmail are pretty much interchangeable for all intents and purposes. If i switch my googlemail over to gmail, will it still accept emails into googlemail.com or do i need to update all the websites i use that have my googlemail as it's log on?


May 4, 2010, 7:21 pm

Also, what happens on my HTC Desire in regards to the google account it uses? Will that get updated somehow or stay as googlemail?


May 4, 2010, 7:40 pm

I hope they did get a pay off. T'would be nice for the wealth to be shared.


May 4, 2010, 7:58 pm

@Simon - apparently it will be seamless with Google taking care of the back-end settings.


May 4, 2010, 7:59 pm

I don't think you can patent a name/logo. Don't you mean trademark?


May 4, 2010, 8:03 pm

@sockatume - it's Google's terminology, so given its legal team I'm sticking with their vocabulary for now ;)


May 4, 2010, 8:54 pm

Anyone I know with a googlemail email has been able to use the shortened gmail ending anyway.

Similar story with the dot between first/last names. If you leave out the dot, even if your official address has a dot, it'll still reach you.

So mail to joebloggs@gmail.com reaches joe.bloggs@googlemail.com anyway.

Rich 42c5

May 4, 2010, 9:02 pm

Of course, anyone who got an @googlemail.com could still use @gmail.com all along... but they kept that one pretty quiet.


May 4, 2010, 9:06 pm

@gherkingTR: yep its been like that from the start, they just cant advertise gmail over here. You can also do contact+joebloggs@gmail.com and autofilter your emails (might be the other way round dont use it that often)


May 4, 2010, 9:16 pm

@Rich - in a sense, but it sometimes made logging on a problem with some smartphones and it was a pain remembering if you setup accounts with googlemail.com or gmail.com when logging into sites.

Not that I'd know, I got a Gmail account in 2004 ;)


May 4, 2010, 11:25 pm

As stated above, they are interchangeable now! I have been a GMail user for many years. My disappointment at being issued with a googlemail address evaporated when I discovered almost immediately that the gmail version worked as well. I never even mentioned the googlemail one to anybody ...


May 4, 2010, 11:33 pm

I had a gmail account from the invite only period and only ever used gmail, never googlemail. Interesting about the "dot" feature, I never realised that before but just tested my address without the dot in various combinations and they all work. I only had the dot because gmail recommended it to me (at the time I assumed that the name without a dot was taken but that cant have been the case!)

Lance Uppercut

May 5, 2010, 1:06 am

@GherkingTR - not if you have someone else with the same name who has distinguished themselves from you with the dot between the names. I'm forever getting mail for my namesake because his wife keeps leaving out the dot.


May 5, 2010, 1:48 am

When I log into Googlemail, I simply user my google username, no need to add either gmail or googlemail to the login. So I guess this means when you create a new account, it reserves both extensions.


May 5, 2010, 2:41 am

@ Lance Uppercut - Seems Google disagrees with you. http://mail.google.com/support...

Lance Uppercut

May 5, 2010, 3:36 pm

@Malderon - Ooh - that's a bit weird. I wonder how it distinguishes the two addresses normally then?


May 5, 2010, 6:14 pm

@Lance Uppercut - it doesn't - gmail completely ignores dots in the first part of the e-mail address (i.e. everything before @gmail / @googlemail) and doesn't care if you use @gmail or @googlemail, so johnsmith@gmail.com, john.smith@googlemail.com, and even j.o.h.n.sm.ith@gmail.com all go to the same mailbox.

Sunny 1

May 7, 2010, 9:33 pm

well google mail server might not care if its gmail or googlemail but Android seems to care.

Changed my email to gmail from googlemail and surprise, surprise, it stopped syncing mail and contact in my HTC Desire.

Nice!!!! to make it work need to do a factory reset.

nice going google. that's why Apple iPhone is called jesus phone.


May 7, 2010, 9:48 pm

@Sunny - that's because IT IS READY YET! Google is rolling out the changes over the next month or so.

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