Google Under Pressure in Courts

21 October 2005

Internet search engine titan Google has ceded to the litigious will of companies a fraction its size. It has been forced to change the name of its free Gmail service in the UK, following a trademark dispute with a London-headquartered financial information service.

Independent International Investment Research says it started using the name Gmail two years before Google, which has now rebranded its service Googlemail. It has already dropped the moniker in Germany following a court ruling in a similar dispute.

The result is that Google is unable to promote one of its most high profile brands in two of Europe's largest economies. IIIR, meanwhile, is pursuing Google for financial compensation - sums which the search engine describes as "exorbitant".

On the other side of the Atlantic, Google is being sued by publishers over its plan to put millions of books online. The Association of American Publishers has filed a suit in New York claiming Google will infringe their copyrights.

The company counters, however, that its idea will stimulate demand for books. Users would not be able to download or print whole books, but would be able to view a few sentences.

Copyright holders have until November 1 to contact Google and have their titles removed from the list of those books to be scanned.

But publishers want the whole process stopped and, claiming they are suffering "continuing, irreparable and imminent harm", have asked the court to grant an injunction.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online and BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff