- ABOUT G&R
G&R/Gmail and the Google/Gmail
In response to the various inquiries from our customers regarding the current status of G&R/Gmail, and to the relationship, if any, to Google's Gmail we have decided to release the following statement for our customers and distributors, as well as other interested parties.
G&R represents that it is the sole owner of all right, title and interest to the software system known as G&R Gmail. We license Gmail under a non-exclusive, non-transferable license to our customers via our distributors, while retaining our ownership of all PROPRIETARY INFORMATION, INVENTIONS AND PATENTS related to Gmail.
G&R Gmail is in no way related to the product known as Gmail from Google, and we have not transferred any right, title or interest in Gmail to Google. Gmail must not be confused with e-mail products of the same name from Google or others.
G&R Gmail was developed completely by G&R employees, after the founding of G&R in 1982, and first licensed commercially in 1984 as a part of the software system known as GRUS (Gallagher & Robertson User System). GRUS with the G&R e-mail system was used widely in Norway in both the private and public sectors. The product was given the name Gmail in 1989 when the GRUS package was updated to become Server6. As a part of Server6 and other server packages Gmail was licensed under the Gmail name in various countries in Europe and in the Americas. We have marketed and supported Gmail under the Gmail name from then until today. Although we have not formally registered Gmail as a trademark, we have marketed G&R Gmail under the Gmail name for 15 years, and believe that we have common law right to the name, at least in Norway, USA, Great Britain, Sweden, Denmark and other European countries where our distributors actively marketed Gmail. Our right to the name under Norwegian law has been challenged by Google. We have consulted Oslo Patentkontor (Oslo Patent Office) on this matter, and they have issued the following statement:
In Norway the exclusive right to a trademark can be achieved by registration (Trademarks Act Section 1) or by usage (Trademarks Act Section 2). A trademark is regarded as acquired by usage when, in the marketing sector where it is used, it is recognized as a label for someone's goods or services. There can be no doubt that Gallagher & Robertson's continuing use of the name Gmail for their e-mail service for 15 years has resulted in their acquiring the right by usage, and that Gmail is therefore a protected trademark under Norwegian law. This is confirmed by the fact that among Gallagher & Robertson's and Google's customers doubt has arisen about which supplier stands behind the Gmail name. This has happened both in Norway and abroad. According to the Trademarks Act Section 14 first paragraph sub-paragraph 7 it is illegal to take into use a trademark that is already in use by another if one is aware of the prior usage. A party such as Google must be expected to know of, or find out about, what is in fact already in use by other parties in this sector before launching a new trademark.
Gmail is one of the few surviving e-mail systems that predate commercial Internet. Gmail is also special in that it is one of the relatively few commercial products that conformed to the ISO X.400 e-mail standard. With the advent of commercial Internet Gmail was adapted to support the Internet mail standards, and today Gmail 'post offices' are generally linked using the Internet, and Gmail exchanges messages and file attachments with all e-mail systems compatible with the Internet standards.
All of the products in the Gmail range remain viable and are supported by G&R.
Gallagher & Robertson, October 2005.
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