The Little-Known Story of Nissan vs. Nissan

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The little-known story of Uzi Nissan VS Nissan Motor Company: A David vs. Goliath Tale of the Digital Age.

When searching for cars, you might expect to just go straight through the company’s website. There’s honda.com, toyota.com, ford.com, etc. But when looking for a Nissan you may be surprised when nissan.com leads to a blank landing page. What many don’t realize is that there’s an incredible story behind that:

In the late 1990s, a legal battle unfolded that would become one of the most notable domain cases from the age of the dot-com bubble. This was a fight between a small business owner and a multinational corporation, both named Nissan. The former was Uzi Nissan, an Israeli immigrant to the United States and a self-made businessman. The latter was the Japanese car manufacturer, Nissan Motor Company, now one of the largest car companies on the planet.

Uzi Nissan started his first business in America just months after immigrating from Israel in 1980. He worked at an auto repair shop and then started one of his own just a few weeks later. He would dabble in importing and exporting vehicles and heavy equipment. Eventually, he would pivot to a home computer business with Nissan Computer Corporation.

In 1994, with the popularity of the internet snowballing, Uzi decided to give his new business an online presence by registering his business at www.nissan.com. This website was created for his small retail computer business, Nissan Computer. This would be a full 4 years before the vehicle manufacturer of the same name would have any interest in the domain.

In 1999, Nissan Motor Company offered to buy the domain name www.nissan.com from Uzi, which he declined. The car company then tried to seize the domain from Uzi in court, igniting a multi-year legal battle that cost Uzi over $3 million.

The eight-year legal war eventually settled in September of 2007, with the court ultimately striking down the car company’s claims of trademark infringement and brand dilution in favor of Uzi holding onto the nissan.com domain.

Despite winning the legal battle, Uzi nearly lost everything along the way. The legal war spanned over eight years and cost him over $3 million and an unimaginable emotional toll. 

After the lawsuit, Uzi repurposed his website to tell of his confrontation with the corporate giant. However, sometime within the last few weeks, nissan.com went dark, possibly due to server problems or because it was self-hosted and in Uzi’s absence, any server problems may have temporarily (or permanently) brought the site down. Sadly, in early 2020, Uzi Nissan passed away due to COVID-19 complications. His surviving family members launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover medical expenses accrued from Uzi’s struggle with COVID-19, as well as fund higher education for his children. You can donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/Uzi-Nissan

The story of Uzi Nissan is a testament to the power of perseverance and determination. It serves as a reminder that sometimes even the little guy can win against all odds. However, it also highlights the immense personal and financial toll such battles can take on individuals. As for Nissan Motor Company, they have established NissanUSA.com as their U.S. homepage, indicating that they have moved on from this chapter. Although, now with nissan.com going dark, who’s to say they won’t take another stab at the domain?

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Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly

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