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Google’s Gmail Faces Another Legal Blow in Germany

g-mail Good news! You probably don’t need to worry about Google pulling Gmail out of Germany due to impending privacy laws.

Bad news! Instead, it looks like Google might yank the service anyway, after losing a trademark battle over the use of the name in Germany.

The regional court in the northern city of Hamburg ruled that Google may not use the name in Germany, upholding 33-year-old businessman Daniel Giersch’s claim to have a copyright on the name for an email service he has been developing for seven years.

Mr Giersch says he has used the name “G-Mail” since 2000, four years before the US giant launched its “Gmail” product

Does Europe Have the Power to Kill the Google/DoubleClick Deal?

I must admit, international anti-trust law is not one of my strengths, so perhaps someone could explain to me how the merger of two U.S. companies could come under the rule of the European Union?

BEUC, backed by consumers in Germany, Italy and Spain, has urged the competition commissioner Neelie Kroes to investigate the deal, arguing in a letter seen by the Guardian that it “may have a negative impact on the selection of online content available to consumers and on privacy”. The US federal trade commission is already investigating on similar grounds.

If Ms Kroes finds that the deal is in breach of European regulations, she could quash the takeover or force Google to divest large parts of its business.

FTC: We Don’t Need No Steenkin’ Net Neutrality

Yesterday, Ars Technica (man, I love cool Latin blog names!) covered a report on Net Neutrality by the Federal Trade Commission’s Internet Access Task Force. The report, “Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy,” minimizes the debate, noting that there are few current problems in the area.

In a statement, FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras said:

This report recommends that policy makers proceed with caution in the evolving, dynamic industry of broadband Internet access, which generally is moving toward more – not less – competition. In the absence of significant market failure or demonstrated consumer harm, policy makers should be particularly hesitant to enact new regulation in this area.

Court Ruling Could Force Search Engines to Track and Hand Over Private Data

A court ruling against TorrentSpy could create a dangerous precedent that would require other search engines and ISPs to create and store user data.

With privacy advocates already concerned that Google’s keeping data for 18 months, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pressing a California court to overturn a ruling that would make it a requirement for internet companies keep sensitive data and hand it over in a civil lawsuit.

The ruling came in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by motion picture studios against TorrentSpy, a popular search engine that indexes materials made publicly available via the Bit Torrent file sharing protocol. TorrentSpy has never logged its visitors’ Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Notwithstanding this explicit privacy policy, a federal magistrate judge has now ordered TorrentSpy to activate logging and turn the logged data over to the studios.

“This unprecedented ruling has implications well beyond the file sharing context,” EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry said.

German Gmail Users, Achtung!

If you live in Germany and you are a Gmail user, it might be time to start considering backing up any important emails. A post over at Google Blogoscoped reported yesterday that Google is threatening to discontinue Gmail due to a recently passed German law.

The Blogoscoped article states:

”According to this law, email services [in Germany] will be forced to maintain personally identifiable records attached to email accounts. What exactly this might mean for Google I don’t know, but perhaps it would result in Gmail having to start requiring full addresses (and perhaps even having to verify an address by sending a snail mail to the user).”

The news was originally reported by the German news source Heise Online. The Heise article, which is written completely in German, can be found here.

Thank Google for Any Delays to Microsoft Vista Service Pack 1

Microsoft has proved the value in the saying “easier to ask for forgiveness than permission,” when it comes to Vista. After Google complained to the Justice Department that Vista unfairly made it difficult to use a desktop search tool other than Microsoft’s own “Instant Search”, the company has acquiesced and agreed to make changes when it releases Vista Service Pack 1.

So, we can all thank Google for delaying the release of Vista SP 1. Why? If you were Microsoft, would you be in a hurry to change Vista from its default Microsoft offering? We’ll likely not see SP 1 until the end of the year, giving MSFT almost 12 months to switch computer users over to Instant Search.

It’s a crafty move and proves there’s value in simply seeing what you can get away with.

Class Action Lawsuit Against Google’s YouTube Adds Plaintiffs

It looks like England’s Football Association Premier League, has found some support in its class action lawsuit against YouTube.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that France’s tennis federation, a French soccer league and a music publisher have all thrown their hats into the ring.

Federation Francaise de Tennis, Ligue de Football Professione and Cherry Lane Music Publishing Co., which owns rights to music catalogues for artists such as Elvis Presley and Quincy Jones, said in a statement they “join and strongly support” the copyright- infringement claims against YouTube and Google.