Friday, October 14, 2011

Nissan.com: The 12 year battle for a domain name


This is the biggest surprise for me but it's an old story. I love Nissan Cars, that probably sums up my taste. My sister is also a Super Nissan X-Trail fan. But who owns Nissan.com? Of course not Nissan Motor Company but Nissan Computer Corp, a computer company incorporated in North Carolina in 1991 by Uzi Nissan. Uzi Nissan came to the United States in 1976 from Israel and established several businesses under the trademark Nissan such as Nissan Foreign Car, an export business called Nissan International and so on. Nissan is also the name of his grandfather and the seventh month in the Hebrew calendar. So the guy had every right to the domain, right? Back then, Nissan Motor Company was also called Datsun. Remember? I used to call them "Dustsun" because most of the Datsuns I saw as a kid were old, dusty, rickety vehicles. Of course I had not been born when Nissan was Datsun, but what a name for a car! It's like being called Dick.{apologies to all the Dicks, no pun intended}

 Mr. Nissan registered the domain Nissan.com in 1994 for his Nissan Computers Corp while Nissan Motors was asleep. Nissan Motors woke up in 1999, I think at the height of the .com boom and realized that they needed nissan.com. This is the era when old school domainers were minting millions of dollars from type-in traffic and PPC. The company filed a lawsuit against Mr. Nissan demanding $10 million for copyright infringement and loss of business for use of Nissan Motors mark.

What followed was a 10 year gigantic battle in which Nissan Motors lost not only the case but thousands of customers pissed off by its "bullying" tactics. Mr Nissan still has his domain name and on the home page, he proudly displays a relic of a hard won battle: a link to the story on the lawsuit and thousands(over 10,000) of comments, all of which, curiously, are in his support and are from supposed Nissan clients who were just on the verge of buying Nissan cars but backed off after learning about the lawsuit. Awesome!

It seems Nissan learnt an unforgettable lesson on the value of domain names and trademark protection from this episode and went on a domain registration spree,  registering its trademark "Nissan" in almost every T:LD known to mankind.

You better read this for yourself

Email Us africadomainnames@gmail.com