Google Drops 'Gmail' — at Least in Britain

Google Inc. dropped the "Gmail" tag from the logo and new account addresses of its free e-mail service in Britain on Wednesday, bowing to the demands of a small British company that claims the U.S. giant has infringed its trademark.

Google replaced "Gmail" with "googlemail" after negotiations with London-based Independent International Investment Research (search) over the rights to the name failed, but said it would pursue the matter further in the courts.

IIIR claims the Google service — launched in Britain in April 2004 — is confusing to would-be clients of its own "G-mail" service, which has been operating until 2002.

The London-based company, which has a market value of around 3 million pounds ($5.3 billion) and specializes in providing research on international companies and currencies for clients including investment banks, hailed the name change as a win.

However, Google said that IIIR's claims were tenuous and that it would "continue to work with the courts and trademark office" to restore the "Gmail" name to its service.

The name change applies only to new addresses and the web site logo. Holders of existing accounts will retain the "Gmail" address until the trademark issue is settled by the courts or further negotiation, Google said.