Why You Can’t Buy A Nissan at Nissan.com
(Image via Wikimedia Commons. All rights released by author.)
For most of us, registering a domain based on our own name doesn’t cause too many problems -especially if you got in early and secured your exact name without having to opt for a variant. That is unless your name happens to be the same as a large corporation and they want that domain badly.
Then it could be a become an expensive headache for you. Just ask Mr Nissan.
Uzi Nissan is an entrepreneur from North Carolina who since the 1980’s has owned a number of small businesses branded with his last name. This includes Nissan Computer Corp which he set up in the 1990’s and for which he registered the domain nissan.com for his business website.
At that stage the Nissan car company had started signalling their intentions to get the nissan.com domain name. The two parties met in October 1999 hoping to find an amicable resolution. Mr Nissan made some good points noting that ‘Nissan’ was indeed his name and whilst the internet had not been around the whole time, he had been in business using that name well before Nissan had changed their name from Datsun in the eighties.
Believing that he had the high ground, Mr Nissan reportedly asked for millions of dollars to hand over the domain name. In retrospect, one could speculate that it might have been a good idea to accept a more realistic offer. The motor company decided to spend their money on lawyers instead and filed a lawsuit in December 1999 claiming that Nissan Computer Corp was in violation of their trademark. Nissan Motors also claimed that Mr Nissan had started including advertising for auto related products on his website. The second claim is true – this archived version shows links to auto products and a search box for SUV’s.
The demands of Nissan Motor could be summed up as: Hand over the domain name. Stop using the Nissan name. Give us $10 million dollars for damages.
Mr Nissan decided to take up the fight and the case has taken a number of twists and turns through the court system over the years. Ultimately in 2007 the court determined that Mr Nissan could keep the domain. Further, in 2008 the court ordered Nissan Motor pay Uzi Nissan $58000 for attorney’s fees – an amount he claims is less than 2% of what it actually cost him to defend it.
If you go to nissan.com today you will see that Mr Nissan still has the site and it is used for a number of purposes including still selling computer related products and services as well as drawing attention to this case. Meanwhile Nissan USA’s home on the web can be found at nissanusa.com