Google Blogoscoped

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Google vs
By Ludwik Trammer

“Google doesn’t like Polish poets” says a huge header in the biggest daily newspaper in Poland, “Gazeta Wyborcza.” Later the story about Google filing a lawsuit against the owners of and was reported by Yahoo, Digg and many others blogs and technology news sites. Google was mostly shown as an evil corporation trying to destroy defenseless poets, as in this Threadwatch article:

A group of young people got together and decided that they’ll create a website where anyone could publish poems for free. They picked a name “Grupa Młodych Artystów i Literatów” (GMAiL) ... Naturally, they wanted a domain – it came up that was free, so they’ve registered it. ...

Don’t be evil?

Can we find out more reading original Polish sources? is a classic example of cybersquatting. The whole site is a link to an email address with the default subject “ domain”. The owner doesn’t talk to press. There is not much controversy about this case.

The situation around is completely different. The site is working and “gmail” is a real acronym of its name – Grupa Młodych Artystów i Literatów (Group of Young Artists and Writers). This clearly isn’t a cybersquatter’s site. Or is it?

The domain was bought 2.5 years after started. Izabela Krawczyk of confirms that they knew about and was very surprised to see that domain was free. In the interview with “Gazeta Wyborcza” she admits they haven’t thought about “GMAIL” as their name before, they just knew it should be something with “Young Artists and Writers” (“Młodzi Artyści i Literaci”). They added “Group of” only after the finding. Some sources suggest that the name was originally meant to be “Club of Young Artists and Writers” (“Klub Młodych Artystów i Literatów” – KMAIL), and indeed – is registered and redirects to That’s not all – in her forum post Krawczyk claims that they have more than 12 domains! Not only they invented (changed?) the group’s name after finding that they could register a valuable domain, but later they tried to auction it on (the Polish competitor of

On the other hand they removed the auction and Krawczyk claims the only reason they have wanted to sell it is that they were afraid of Google. One can’t deny that is working, Young Artists And Writers publicize their texts there (of various quality), and they are not competitors to Google’s service. Ironically enough Google probably wouldn’t use the domain, as they don’t use other gmail TLDs nor, which belongs to Google and isn’t even parked.

The most probable scenario is that Krawczyk and her friends are not professional cybersquatters, but when they were looking for domain and found “” they registered it expecting fast profit. Krawczyk doesn’t see anything wrong in such behavior. In her other forum post she asks: “is there anything bad in hoping for profits from resell when that is a basis rule of the market?”, “others resell domains on Allegro, are we ’evil’ just because we can get more money from it?” and “is only hard work the honest one?”. She seems to be upset because Google didn’t even offer to return them the money they paid for the domain.

The situation is even more complicated from the legal perspective. Google is not the owner of the “gmail” trademark in Europe. In fact in Germany and Great Britain Google can’t even use the name because of lost lawsuits filed by companies owning the trademark. In Poland nobody owns Gmail’s name, but some company (which is neither connected to Google nor the owners of applied for the “” trademark. So it looks like Google has the same rights to this domain as Grupa Młodych Artystów i Literatów, at least from a legal point of view.


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