Daniel Giersch is a venture capitalist who also owns and runs a physical and electronic postal service in Germany called G-Mail. In an exclusive interview with weekly technology law podcast OUT-LAW Radio his trade mark lawyer Sebastian Eble said that money would not be able to buy Giersch's compliance with Google's wishes.
"The German lawyers of Google contacted me and respectively Daniel in order to ask what was his aim and if he was ready to sell his trade mark for US$250,000," said Eble. "But Daniel made it clear from the beginning that he had never had the goal to sell his trade mark."
"Daniel is a millionaire so you know, €250,000 is for Daniel not a big amount of money and on your other hand his aim or his goal is to do big business with this G-mail trademark. G mail is a little bit like Daniel’s baby so it was never a question for him to sell his trade mark," said Elbe. "Even if they would, I do not know, offer him millions I do not think that Daniel would sell it because it is like his little baby, Giersch-mail, so it is named G-mail."
Giersch won a preliminary injunction then a full injunction to stop Google calling its web based email service Gmail in Germany, making it the only country apart from the UK in which the service is not called Gmail. A similar case in the UK has forced Google into branding the service Google Mail here.
The full injunction is being appealed by Google, which announced plans to launch its service in 2004. Giersch, though, registered his trade mark long before that.
"He applied for this trade mark in the year 2000 and the trade mark seeks protection for postal service on the one hand but also email services and telecommunications," said Elbe. "He then started using his trademark G-mail for email services and telecommunications in the year 2003."
"I think in November 2004 he heard that Google was starting email service named G-mail in the United States so his lawyers contacted Google, I think, in November or December 2005 but Google had at that time not shown any interest to talking to Daniel," said Eble.
Giersch also has trade marks in G-mail in Norway, Monaco and Switzerland, where he is pursuing action to protect his trade marks.