The plain text message, which started popping up sometime on Friday, reads, "We can't provide service under the Gmail name in Germany; we're called Google Mail here instead. If you're traveling in Germany, you can access your mail at http://mail.google.com. Oh, and we'd like to link the URL above, but we're not allowed to do that either. Bummer."
Users are then forced to copy and paste the URL into their browsers to access their Gmail account.
Google Germany spokesperson Stefan Keuchel told The Local via email on Monday that the change from www.gmail.com is a result of a trademark lawsuit with German businessman Daniel Giersch, who owns the German trademark for an email service called "G-mail...und die Post geht richtig ab" for his paid email service.
According to Keuchel, Google's action stems from a German court decision in July 2007, which ruled that Google could no longer use "Gmail" for its email services based on Giersch's trademark.
"Following this ruling, we decided not to offer or provide information about email services in Germany that include the word 'Gmail'," Keuchel said. "We're taking this action even though we believe we're not legally obliged to do so."
The trademark conflict between Giersch and Google has been going on since since at least July 2005, when Google changed its German service from Gmail to Google Mail.
"This will in no way affect our ability to provide email to our users in Germany who will continue to enjoy the same experience as all other users, wherever they are in the world," Keuchel told the Local.
Daniel Giersch has so far been unavailable for comment on the matter.