3/20/2008

Google loses Gmail trademark appeal in Europe

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A European body has again told Google that it cannot have trademark protection to use the Gmail mark throughout the European Union.

The European Union’s trademark regulation agency denied Google’s appeal in late February. The ruling concluded that the mark is too similar to the G-mail trademark owned by German businessman Daniel Giersch. Giersch runs an electronic postal delivery business that goes by the name G-mail, which is short for “Giersch mail.”

Google changed the name of its free Web-based e-mail service to “GoogleMail” in Germany after losing to Giersch in court there and in Switzerland. Google also uses the “GoogleMail” name in the U.K. as a result of a separate lawsuit.

Eclipse planning an upgrade

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A planned upgrade to the Eclipse software development platform, called Eclipse 4.0, is expected to feature Web enablement and less complexity.

Due in two years, Eclipse 4.0, or e4, was the subject of a presentation at the EclipseCon 2008 conference in Santa Clara, Calif. on Wednesday. It also was discussed by Mike Milinkovich, executive director of Eclipse, in an interview on Tuesday. He said e4 is not even started as a project yet. “It is theoretical at this point,” said Milinkovich.

Best Buy $50 gift cards for HD DVD suckers

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Feel like a sucker for buying an HD DVD player? Well, if you happen to have bought it at Best Buy, you’re in line to get a $50 gift card from the retail giant as part of its pity program for HD DVD owners. OK, I’m kidding about the pity program, but the $50 gift certificate is real, and you don’t have to give up your HD DVD player to get one.

According the official release, Best Buy is giving $50 gift cards to “Customers who purchased an HD DVD player or HD DVD attachment from its U.S. stores before February 23, 2008.” And owners of multiple HD DVD players can receive a gift card for each player or HD DVD attachment they purchased. Best Buy says it plans to distribute more than $10 million in gift cards.

The release goes on to say that, “Best Buy will proactively mail cards to all customers that the company can identify as having purchased an HD DVD player. Members of the Best Buy Reward Zone program, customers who purchased Performance Service Plans (PSPs), or who made their purchase on BestBuy.com should look for their gift cards in the mail by May 1. Other customers who may not be easily identified can call (888) BEST-BUY to receive their gift cards with proof of purchase through a credit card or their Best Buy receipt.”

There’s another little tidbit in the release that’s also worth mentioning. If you just want to get rid of your HD DVD player, Best Buy is opening its Online Trade-In Center on March 21 to HD DVD owners (this deal is open to any HD DVD owner regardless of where you bought your player). “Visitors to the site will receive instant estimates of the value of their HD DVD players and movies,” the release says. “Those who agree with the estimates can then ship their goods to the Trade-In Center free of charge by downloading a prepaid shipping label and will receive an additional gift card as payment for their trade-in.”

Best Buy isn’t the first store to offer relief to HD DVD buyers. Circuit City has apparently been allowing customers who bought players within 90 days of HD DVD officially going belly up to return them for store credit.

Hurricane flood threat coming soon to Google

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Americans in the hurricane danger zone may soon be able to use Google to find out if their own home is threatened by a dangerous storm surge, the director of the National Hurricane Center said on Wednesday.

Storm surge, the massive wall of water carried onto land by a hurricane, is considered perhaps its most destructive element and greatest threat to the lives of people who ignore evacuation orders in vulnerable coastal areas.

Bill Read, who was appointed head of the Miami-based U.S. forecasting center in January, said a planned program will couple a Google application with storm surge data that meteorologists have used for years to determine the flooding threat from any category of storm.

“People can plug in their address and see at what level they are at risk,” Read told Reuters in an interview.

He said he hoped the program would be available during the coming Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.

IE8 To Eases Web Sharing

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Many people now create and share content on the Internet or blend services from various sites in their daily tasks, reflecting the medium’s clear evolution from a place for simply consuming Web sites.

The upcoming version of Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer, version 8, embraces those trends by adding an “Activities” feature that makes all that easier for PC users. Although it’s still in a “beta” test mode meant mostly for Web designers to try out, I’m liking what I’m seeing so far.

Internet Explorer’s main competitor among browsers for PCs, Firefox, also has been testing an update, although the most promising features await implementation by Web sites. More on that later.

With Activities, one of several new Internet Explorer features, Web services like Facebook, eBay and Yahoo can write tools that users can install with just two clicks.

For example, Microsoft links a slew of Activities to its e-mail, blogging and news services, among others. Yahoo Inc. has one for maps, and auction site eBay Inc. has one to search its listings. The online hangout Facebook, of which Microsoft owns 1.6 percent, offers tools for finding friends or sharing content on its site.

Apple Said to Weigh Unlimited Music Deal

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Apple Inc. is mulling a plan to upend its iTunes business by giving people unlimited free access to the music library if they’re willing to pay more for the iPod and iPhone devices they use for playing and storing the digital media, according to a report published Wednesday.

Some analysts threw cold water on the plan outlined in the Financial Times, however, saying Cupertino-based Apple would risk creating an “accounting nightmare” and alienating some artists if it started giving away songs on its iTunes online store.

Rumors have buzzed through the industry for a couple years that Apple might open iTunes for free downloads. Meanwhile, Apple’s rivals are experimenting with new ways to distribute music online - including giving it away.

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