A dispute over the name nissan.com and nissan.net is now in the hands of a California court. The Japanese auto
maker "Nissan Motors Co., LTD" and "Nissan North America, Inc. filed for legal action against "Nissan Computer Corp., a North Carolina-based corporation since 1991 with a registered trademark for its name.
Mr. Nissan, an Israeli-American born in Jerusalem, registered the domain name nissan.com in 1994 to help expand his computer business. In 1996 he registered the domain name nissan.net to expand his business as an Internet Service Provider (ISP).
The word "NISSAN" means the month of April in Arabic and the seventh month in the Hebrew calendar. The Nissan family traces their history to biblical days. Mr. Nissan explained, "I am proud of my last name and I wish to keep on using it." Nissan Computer Corp. is based in Raleigh, NC and provides computer sales & services and Internet services for the Research Triangle area and the Sandhills area of NC.
Mr. Nissan added, "Nissan Motors is trying to bankrupt me and my companies by forcing me to cease using the Nissan name and incurring the high cost of mounting a defense." Mr. Nissan estimated the total legal costs to be between $250,000. to $1,000,000. or more, according to a study of average costs made by the American Intellectual Property Law Association. "It's my legal last name after all and they have no right
to it," he stressed. "I registered the Internet domains legally and I intend to continue on with my business as usual", Mr. Nissan said. Nissan Motors Co., LTD and Nissan North America, Inc. contends that Nissan.com and nissan.net infringe on their trademark, despite the fact that one is a car manufacturer and the other is a computer Company.
The companies further contend that "Nissan Computer Corp." was trying to extort money from them despite the fact that it was Nissan Motors' official, Merril Davis, who initiated contact with Uzi Nissan earlier this fall. Mr. Davis traveled to North Carolina to meet Mr. Nissan again last week. During those negotiations on December 10, Nissan Motors' lawyers cut the meeting short by filing the lawsuit.
"I feel like David against the Japanese Goliath," Mr. Nissan said. "It seems I don't have a chance. I stand to lose the business I worked very hard at building for the past nine years."
Mr. Nissan, however, is not intimidated with Nissan Motors' actions. He believes that the law is on his side, and as he puts it, "I want to let them know that they just can't walk all over a small company and expect the public to stay silent. Losing this case would send the wrong
signal to small business owners everywhere."
Mr. Nissan is already in the process of launching a massive awareness campaign aimed at keeping public informed about his company's crisis. A dedicated Web site ""ncchelp.org"" is already online covering the evolvement of this case and seeking support from the public at large.
To fight his case, Nissan Computer Corp. has hired renowned trademark lawyer Neil Greenstein, formerly Chair of the Los Angeles Intellectual
Property Department of Baker & McKenzie, the world's largest law firm, to handle this intellectual property matter.