In the world of business, names are everything, especially trademarks. Companies go through a lot of trouble to safeguard their identity from unscrupulous operators who want to piggyback on the hard earned reputation. However in this case the tables were turned, with a small time guy taking successfully on the giant search giant Google.
If you are a German, or was passing through Germany these days you would not be able to access Gmail by typing www.gmail.com. Instead of having to type in their user name and password, users were greeted by a message that apologised for not letting users to log in and check their mail the usual way. No hackers had broken into the homepage, in case fearful and cautious users were pressing alarm bells. The apparent disfigurement was done by Google, that recommended users to use www.mail.google.com. Here also, Google had no right to link to the Gmail page and the hapless users were forced to copy-paste the URL into the address bar to access their mails.
Google had a long standing feud with a local venture capitalist named Daniel Giersch, who owns the trademark to a paid e-mail service called GMail. This was registered years before Google dreamed up the name for its e-mail service, so nobody could accuse him of being a copycat. Google had already lost the case that Giersch had brought against it and was fined for illegally using a trademark.
Google has no plans on what steps it will take in the future to resolve this unsightly mess. However, it has said that there will not be any degradation in service and all features would be supported in the German version of Gmail.
That should give the Germans some consolation, after they have gotten used to the new URL.