Since October 19, 2005, Gmail has been known as “Google Mail” in the UK. The means that everyone who signed up since that point was forced to use the cumbersome @googlemail.com address rather than a @gmail.com one. But soon, Gmail is going on a UK comeback tour. And the better news: all those with @googlemail.com addresses can “upgrade” to a gmail.com one.
So why the change? Well, initially Google had to stop using Gmail in the UK because of a legal dispute. As they explain here, it was a trademark issue. Rather than offer no service to UK users, Google made the call to go with Google Mail while it fought for the Gmail name. “We are still working with the courts and trademark office to protect our ability to use the Gmail name, but in the meantime, we want you to have an email address you can rely on,” they wrote at the time.
In announcing that soon (new sign-ups can get their addresses later this week) Gmail will be available for Google’s use in the UK again, the company doesn’t get into specifics. So it’s not clear if they settled with the owners to obtain the name, or if they won their case after all these years. I’ve reached out to Google for clarification. Back in 2005, they noted, “We have tried to resolve this dispute through negotiations, but our efforts have failed.”
Naturally, Google is pumping this up more than just a branding win — “Since “gmail” is 50% fewer characters than “googlemail,” we estimate this name change will save approximately 60 million keystrokes a day. At about 217 microjoules per keystroke, that’s about the energy of 20 bonbons saved every day!,” they note.
And yes, if you choose to, you’re welcome to still keep your @googlemail.com address.
Update: It looks like Google was able to reach a settlement on the name.
“After engaging in legal proceedings at the trademark office, we were able to reach a settlement with the party with whom we had the conflict. We are happy to have resolved this issue, and look forward to offering @gmail.com addresses to users in the UK,” a Google spokesperson tells us.