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Last Updated: Friday, 2 July, 2004, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Google bans Gmail sales
Screengrab of Gmail homepage
Gmail has shaken up the web-mail market
Gmail sellers beware, Google wants to stop people profiting from the trade in popular e-mail addresses.

Search giant Google has updated the program policy for Gmail on Monday adding clauses that ban the sale, trading, reselling or exploiting of Gmail accounts for commercial purposes.

Like the early days of the domain name boom some people have been creating Gmail accounts that could be snapped up by speculators.

The change is aimed at those wanting to cash in on the scarcity of Gmail accounts rather than those swapping invitations to open a new account.

Domain boom

Gmail debuted on 1 April but the numbers using it remain relatively low because new accounts can only be opened via an invitation from an existing user.

The scarcity has meant that Gmail accounts are being coveted by many net users.

Accounts are being sold on eBay and exchanged on sites such as Gmail Swap.

But in an effort to stop people profiteering from the scarcity, Google has now updated its Gmail policy page and added clauses that ban exploiting it for "any unauthorized commercial purpose".

It is thought that some people are creating Gmail accounts for trademarks or company names in the hope of selling control of such addresses to the rightful owners.

In the early days of the dotcom boom, many people bought net domains for well-known names and tried to sell them on for a profit. The courts typically took a dim view of these tactics.

It is not clear yet what other action Google will take to police Gmail accounts and whether it will confiscate or close accounts that flout the policy change.

Despite the policy change Google still seems happy for invitations for accounts to be swapped and traded.


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