Google has been having a tough time acquiring the Chinese domain name for its popular, free web-based email service, Gmail. Beijing ISM Internet Technology Development Co., the company that currently owns “Gmail.cn”, currently operates its own free email service called ISM Gmail.
According to Reuters, Google recently tried to purchase Gmail.cn, but its offer was refused. Google also tried to buy Gmail.cn in 2004, the same year that Gmail launched, a spokesperson for ISM noted to technology trade pub InfoWorld.
ISM’s service pre-dates Google’s public release of Gmail. Google had been using Gmail internally for more than two years previously. However, after the public launch in 2004, Gmail.cn took on a look that was remarkably similar to Google’s. Both now use similarly colored logos and follow a similar design aesthetic.
Two years ago, Google paid handsomely to recover the domain names “google.com.cn” and “google.cn,” briefly causing a surge in Google-related domain name-squatting.
Google has been increasing efforts to buy Gmail-related domain names and filed a lawsuit against a polish poetry group for using “Gmail.pl.” The Internet company lost Gmail trademark disputes in both Germany and the UK, where the service is now known as “Google Mail,” and is currently battling to maintain control of the domain name in Switzerland.