Google sues Polish poets over gmail.pl

Izabela Krawczyk of GMAiL (Grupa Młodych Artystów i Literatów), which in English translates to "Group of Young Artists and Writers", told AFP that Google had turned to the country's IT and telecommunications tribunal to try to stop them using http://www.gmail.pl. Google claims that the group of Polish poets has no rights to the name, which resembles the US firm's email service http://www.gmail.com. Krawczyk said that at the end of last year her group was surprised to discover that the domain was available and decided to buy the rights to the domain name in order to raise the profile of GMAiL, which publicises the works of young unknowns who have not yet found a conventional editor.

Krawczyk, a poet and IT fan based in the central Polish city of Lodz, emphasized that that the group is not looking to make money by getting Google to buy the domain off of them: "We didn't buy this name just to sell it to Google. As a matter of pride, we're refusing to give it up. We bought the name legally, with our own money. Nobody gave it to us for free. We refuse to be deprived of what we consider is our property. Our site has a use. There's no financial gain involved. And we're not competing with the US company." Krawczyk also noted that Google had not proposed a financial settlement: "Their lawyer told me that his client had no intention of paying for something which belonged to him."

Opinion: I probably have a bias view on this issue as I am Polish. Still, here's my take. I do not believe that GMAiL has done anything wrong and I believe they should not give up the rights to the domain. It is Google's fault for not securing the domain name early on. Also, the domain googlemail.pl is open, so it is not as if Google does not have options. Finally, as in German and in the UK, Google can always offer Polish users to use googlemail.com to sign up for Gmail.

Link: Forum Discussion (Thanks Rappy)
News source: Physorg

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55 Comments

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I'm sorry but even if something is done quite normal in one's country, you can't assume it's always being taken as a normative.

I could make my own site and call it googel.com, a site that sells gooey gel as a play toy for kids (see: Gak). Of course, I may get a lot of traffic from people who've mistyped google.com. :O

Maybe the Polish would see gmail.pl, think "oh, they got a domain just for us!" and boom. Wrong site.

heh heh, i think that's a good point. there are plenty of ad-domains based on misspelling that don't get sued.
except in your example, google already bought that name and forwards you to google.com

thats what i was going to say.

while the domain may be for there group name, they probly deciede on that name to attract more hits .

Well these idiots knew of Google Mail, they would surely know that Google would be knocking on their door in the future, and surely they have no rights to it since Google owns the "gmail" copyrights.

Sue them for the domain. These guys are morons for trying to take it. That is like me taking windowsvienna.com knowing full well what it is and that MS will be after me for it.

This site makes me laugh sometimes. It never ceases to amaze me that someone can read an article on wikipedia and then believe they are a trademark lawyer. I seriously doubt all the people debating the legality of a trademark have ever been to law school. Not that they don't have the right to post a comment but honestly I wouldn't post a comment on something I know nothing about just because I have an opinion.

Google should quit moaning about things like this.

This is coming from two illiterates that started a company called google as they thought it was spelt that way instead of Googal.

leesmithg said,
Google should quit moaning about things like this.

This is coming from two illiterates that started a company called google as they thought it was spelt that way instead of Googal.

Even though those two illiterates created the worlds most used searching software, and created a multi (billion dollar) company. I'm with the poets, as I hate the copyright laws, patents, and other legal crap. Nobody can create something new or revolutionary without risk being sued or your idea stolen by a company with better legal funding...

In this kind of situation, I would be on the poet's side. Google has absolutely no rights over that domain. But anyway, if the poet is an "IT" fan, he definitely saw this coming... if he got the domain after gmail was announced and stuff.
And if he saw this coming, he either wanted publicity or money... !

Google are having problems with the Gmail name all over the EU at the moment, can't see why they would take yet another case to court.

Google alignment will change in a few years. Now is close to neutral. Probabily we'll all remember nostalgicaly the old days of the good google and evil MS. :))

Ghostdraconi said,
I guess "Do No Evil" just became "Do Some Evil" . I wonder how long before they give into the dark side

Suddenly reminds me of the book, Animal Farm.

Actually, it's entirely possible.

Remember: A lot of people could care less about free email services.

Particularly if it's an offering not targeted towards that country.

If you're domain-squatting to run ads or sponsored links, it makes sense. But if you're hoping for legitimate traffic, I'd expect it would be undesirable to have 30,000 typos a day who eat your bandwidth and leave without reading your content.

Since the Polish group took the domain with the intention of piggy-backing off of Google's (and Gmail's) popularity, I feel that Google is in the right to sue the group. Besides, poets are best when they have something to whine about, so getting crushed in court will really promote the medium.

Shouldn't they (the Polish domain holders) have thought to get gmal.pl ( without the "i" ) instead? It's available as far as I can tell.

I don't know how the Polish language works but you omit words like "of", "and", etc. in English when you're writing something like USA. It's not USoA. So why would they get gmail.pl when all the "i" stands for is "and?"

tiagosilva29 said,
By the way... Google lost their google.pt domain on December 31st! Provide me some money, Neowin.

Google have also lost their claim to have gmail registered as a European wide trademark.

As bad as this makes google look, they actually have to sue them or they lose the right to sue anyone else for copyright infringement. Remember Mike Rowe? Who create Mikerowesoft.com and got promptly sued by Microsoft? That was because he got greedy and wouldn't sell the domain for a reasonable amount, forcing Microsoft to take him to court.
By law, if you do not sue one person for something like this, you can't sue anyone else for it either, go look up that case if you don't believe me.

Since google has a respectable reputation, it seems unlikely that they'd be unfair to the GMAiL group. It's more than likely that they approached the group, offered to buy the domain off them and the group refused, with the soul purpose of raising their own profile.
This wont go to court, they'll ride out the media storm a bit longer then make a compromise I bet.

Kushan said,
As bad as this makes google look, they actually have to sue them or they lose the right to sue anyone else for copyright infringement. Remember Mike Rowe? Who create Mikerowesoft.com and got promptly sued by Microsoft? That was because he got greedy and wouldn't sell the domain for a reasonable amount, forcing Microsoft to take him to court.
By law, if you do not sue one person for something like this, you can't sue anyone else for it either, go look up that case if you don't believe me.

Since google has a respectable reputation, it seems unlikely that they'd be unfair to the GMAiL group. It's more than likely that they approached the group, offered to buy the domain off them and the group refused, with the soul purpose of raising their own profile.
This wont go to court, they'll ride out the media storm a bit longer then make a compromise I bet.

Ding ding ding. We have a winner! Neowins average IQ just raised a few points.

shift4 said,
Assuming this was a US business of which it is not. Does Google even own the rights to the GMAIL name in poland?

Argh. It's called the INTERNET. This isn't only trademark law, but protected under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy, which is 'international'.

^^Emmy, their acronym is GMAiL, and they did own the name first, so Google has no right to sue. If they bought it to be a knockoff or something pertaining to Google's service, then they would have a case, but here they don't.

CrimsonRedMk said,
^^Emmy, their acronym is GMAiL, and they did own the name first, so Google has no right to sue. If they bought it to be a knockoff or something pertaining to Google's service, then they would have a case, but here they don't.

decided to buy the rights to the domain name in order to raise the profile of GMAiL

Did you even read the article?

They could just do what was done at firefox.com, provide two links on the front page, one to gmail and the other to GMaiL.

I don't think they should have to do that because their got in first, fair and square. Although you are onto something, perhaps this organisation could provide a link to Gmail somewhere out of courtesy eg. "Click here if you're looking for Gmail".

These people intentionally took the domain with foreknowledge of the Google Mail service and with the sole intention of exploiting that. They deserve what they get.

virtorio said,
GMAIL is an acronym for "Grupa M?odych Artystów i Literatów". They've done nothing wrong.

That's a legal argument, not a moral one. The article indicates that they took the domain knowing it would give them publicity - this is an immoral decision, with questionable legality. I'm debating peoples stance over the evil demon gmail from a moral standpoint, not legal.

It seems legally clear; gmail.pl has nothing to do with e-mail, so is not infringing on Google's trademark. It's the same way that Joe's Windows and Doors doesn't infringe on Microsoft's trademark.

Andareed said,
It seems legally clear; gmail.pl has nothing to do with e-mail, so is not infringing on Google's trademark. It's the same way that Joe's Windows and Doors doesn't infringe on Microsoft's trademark.

It has nothing to do with e-mail is not a legal argument. If I marketed a product named 'iPod' that was say, a pen, then Apple would still have every right to sue me. Their intention was to buy a domain of a popular service and to exploit it for the purpose of publicity, as they themselves indicate. This action requires Google to respond legally, or they risk setting a precedent that would disqualify them from further legal action against similarly named domains that may have varying circumstances.

Andareed said,
I disagree.

Consider the trademark Excel; there's Microsoft Excel and Excel gum.

You can 'disagree' all you want, but the precedent exists. This is a different situation; what the polish group does is borderline cybersquatting which qualifies as a bad faith domain registration under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy. Microsoft Excel versus Excel gum is a different situation, where only regular trademark law applies. Regardless, Excel is registered as Microsoft Excel - should Excel gum go and buy microsoftexcel.com they would have some problems.

For clarification;

In a UDRP proceeding, the panel will consider factors such as, whether the defendant registrant’s domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the complainant has rights; whether the defendant has no rights or legitimate interests in a name; and whether the defendant registered and is using the name in bad faith.

GMAiL is infringing upon the first and the last. Bad faith would constitute selecting a deliberately similar domain name for the purpose of exploiting either a) monetary benefit, or b) advertising benefit from the similar domain. The argument would be whether .pl domains fall under the jurisdiction of the UDRP, not whether they are violating it (because they clearly are).

Emmy said,

GMAiL is infringing upon the first and the last. Bad faith would constitute selecting a deliberately similar domain name for the purpose of exploiting either a) monetary benefit, or b) advertising benefit from the similar domain. The argument would be whether .pl domains fall under the jurisdiction of the UDRP, not whether they are violating it (because they clearly are).

Trademarks only consider a specific field/industry (e.g. MS owns the trademark on Excel in the software industry, but not the food/candy industry). In the case of GMail, Google owns the GMail trademark with respect to e-mail. Gmail.pl is not into the business of e-mail; they appear to be some sort of poets club/society.

Whether they are using the domain in bad faith is less clear. The article says that they "decided to buy the rights to the domain name in order to raise the profile of GMAiL". Did they buy the domain simply because they had no other website/domain and decided to get a website/domain to raise their profile? Or did they buy the domain because they wanted to sponge off of GMail's fame? The quote doesn't make it clear which it is. If it's the former, then they did not register the domain in bad faith. If it's the latter, they clearly did.

Andareed said,

Trademarks only consider a specific field/industry (e.g. MS owns the trademark on Excel in the software industry, but not the food/candy industry). In the case of GMail, Google owns the GMail trademark with respect to e-mail. Gmail.pl is not into the business of e-mail; they appear to be some sort of poets club/society.

Whether they are using the domain in bad faith is less clear. The article says that they "decided to buy the rights to the domain name in order to raise the profile of GMAiL". Did they buy the domain simply because they had no other website/domain and decided to get a website/domain to raise their profile? Or did they buy the domain because they wanted to sponge off of GMail's fame? The quote doesn't make it clear which it is. If it's the former, then they did not register the domain in bad faith. If it's the latter, they clearly did.

Trademarks and the UDRP are inter-related and do not require differentiation between industries. I would say it is pretty clear that the club intended to sponge off Google's fame otherwise, as was indicated below, the appropriate address would of been gmal.pl not gmaIl.pl (gmail is currently available).

Yea, this GMAiL group probably did take it with motive, Google has kicked up a stink we're all talking about it here and we've probably all visited their site. It's cheap and effective advertising.

Despite any motive this group might have had, Google was too slow and they lost out. You're coming off as saying that by rights all large corporations should automatically get what they want.

Google's status as a world wide corporation and their big Gmail service / trademark shouldn't mean anything at all, they were too slow, they lost out, now somebody else has the domain, that's life, it happens to me, it happens to you, it happens to everyone else, why not Google too?

If Google wants the domain perhaps they should do something very generous for this GMAiL group's cause to make loosing the domain worth while for this organisation.

Also, don't forget that journalism on the net is often heavily biased or not thought through enough. It's possible that this whole issue has probably been blown right out of proportion.

Emmy said,
These people intentionally took the domain with foreknowledge of the Google Mail service and with the sole intention of exploiting that. They deserve what they get.

Exactly. It was obvious from this quote: "Krawczyk said that at the end of last year her group was surprised to discover that the domain was available". They might have an organisation that uses the same acronym but they clearly wanted to sponge of the success of Google to promote their cause and that puts them in the wrong. Google should have registered the address but these people are just opportunists and have should be put in their place.

Great. Just great. Google have turned into Apple (anyone remember the case of the person who created a product called Tightpod, and then got sued by Apple for using "pod" in their product?).

Thats really out of order coming from Google Inc. (Grupa Młodych Artystów i Literatów) is a non profit organisation trying to raise awarness of young unknown yet talented individuals poetry and google is been two faced and saying well we want the rights to the domain.

It's Google Inc's fault for not securing the domain title they earn millions a week and they can't spend a measly $20 on domain securing pffft...i thought they was decent looks like google made me an unhappy consumer.

decided to buy the rights to the domain name in order to raise the profile of GMAiL

well they've succeeded in that

Polska! Polska! Polska! Yeah, I do feel that Google should Have bought the rights to it sooner or later. But then again, its not like there would be a gmail in a polish flavor. Google should at least give them a break. They bought the rights to the name and domain, so therefore they should not be able to claim ownership on something that isn't theirs "well other than the resemblence, but since its only the a .com and .pl, its 2 differnet things"

Thats my point on this whole situation.