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By Uzi Nissan, founder and president of Nissan Computer Corp.

BACKGROUND
My name is Uzi Nissan.  I was born in Jerusalem - Israel.  My father's last name was Nissan, his father's last name was Nissan, and so on.  Nissan is a biblical term identifying the seventh month in the Hebrew calendar. The term Nissan also is Arabic for the month of April.
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I came to the US in 1976, and have used my surname for years to identify a number of business enterprises.  The first was "Nissan Foreign Car" in 1980.  When I operated this business, I serviced different makes and models of foreign cars, including cars manufactured by Nissan Motor, back then known as "DATSUN" .  Contrary to the allegations by Nissan Motor, I did not choose to use my last name "Nissan" for my business in 1980 because of their name.   At that time, they and their automobiles were known as "DATSUN" and were not known as "Nissan".
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In December 1987, I started an import/export business known as "Nissan International" At that time, Nissan Motor was not well known as Nissan, but primarily as "DATSUN".  As with the earlier business, I chose to use Nissan in my business name because it was my last name.
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On May 14, 1991, "Nissan Computer Corp" was incorporated in the state of North Carolina. I was then, and still am, the company President.  I have used Nissan as part of my trade name in connection with the sale of computer hardware, computer maintenance, networking, computer training and other consulting services related to computers.  On June 4, 1994, I registered the domain name "nissan.com" and created a web site to promote computer related products and services on the Internet.


Nissan Motor has been aware  of our domain name and us since at least July of 1995, when I received a letter from the auto maker's senior legal counsel. The letter did not claim we were illegally using our domain name nor the NISSAN mark, but expressed only "concern" by our use of nissan.com. The letter requested further information in order to evaluate our web site.  I chose not to respond because I believed it was clear we were a computer company and that there was no conflict. Nissan Motor's lawyers never contacted me again, confirming my belief that they had no valid concern about us.


In July of 1995, I obtained a service mark registration for Nissan and my logo from the State of North Carolina.
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On March 17, 1996, I registered the domain name  nissan.net, and began offering Internet services, including dial-up connections and direct data connections to business.


DECEMBER - 1999,  Initial Filing.
More then five years after I registered nissan.com, legal action was instituted by Nissan Motor seeking $10,000,000 in damages, and to restrain me from the use of MY family name for business purposes on the Internet.


APRIL - 2002,  First Round of Summary Judgments.
The court ruled on a summary judgment motions as follows:
1. "Cyber-Squatting" claim, in Nissan Computer's favor.
2. "Infringement on non-auto-related" claim, in Nissan Computer's favor.
3. "Infringement on auto-related" claim, in Nissan Motor's favor.
4. "Dilution" claim was sent to trial.

Nissan Motor's intention to make this case as expensive as possible for me was evident from the beginning.  Undoubtedly, the notion that me and my company might be forced into bankruptcy rather than fight for my name, given the great expense, must have been a consideration.  As if the financial burden incurred by me and Nissan Computers was not enough, Nissan Motor filed a lawsuit against the Internet Center, Inc., a corporation with three shareholders, in which I am the majority shareholder.  The Internet Center, Inc. did not and does not utilize the word "NISSAN" in any way.


SEPTEMBER - 2002,  Second Round of Summary Judgment.
The previous court rulings did not end this case.  Nissan Motor filed a second round of Summary Judgment Motions, trying (and has been successful) to get the Court to deprive me of the right to a jury trial.
The Court, surprisingly, changed its attitude on this issue and:
1. Changed the relevant date for "fame" from 1991 to 1994.
2. Found that no reasonable jury could find that Nissan was not famous by 1994.
3. Found that Nissan Computer and The Internet Center diluted Nissan Motor's trademark.
4. Found that the publication of information about this lawsuit, the comments made by many people
    on this site and my efforts to bring this issue to the public, did tarnished Nissan Motor's mark.
Many legal experts view this case, not as a "law-breaking" case, but as a "law-making" case.  The Court indicated that certain aspects of this case may be creating new law as well.
Nissan Motor is now asking the Court to transfer nissan.com to them entirely.  The potential loss of a domain name in this fashion may set the wrong precedent for future cases and will open the door for any deep-pocket corporation to do the same.  This may become "the law of the land" by being solely based on "the law of the jungle", and could affect you or someone you know.


DECEMBER - 2002,  Final Injunction.
The district court issued a final Judgment allowing Nissan Computer to keep its nissan.com and nissan.net domain names, but restricted our rights to do the following:
1. Posting Commercial content at nissan.com and nissan.net;
2. Posting advertising or permitting advertising to be posted by third parties at nissan.com and
    nissan.net;
3. Posting disparaging remarks or negative commentary regarding Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
    or Nissan North America, Inc. at nissan.com and nissan.net;
4. Placing, on nissan.com or nissan.net, links to other websites containing commercial content,
    including advertising; and
5. Placing, on nissan.com or nissan.net, links to other websites containing disparaging remarks or
    negative commentary regarding Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. or Nissan North America.
After reviewing this and other rulings of the district court, we believed that the only practical option was to appeal.  One of the key reasons for the appeal is that we considered this injunction to be a clear violation of our "First Amendment Rights" as it is to every American citizen's constitutional rights.  This is not only my opinion, but the opinion of many experts, such as Mr. Paul A. Levy of Public Citizen Litigation Group which submitted an Amicus Brief
(PDF) to the 9th circuit court of appeals, in support of our motion for a limited stay of the District Court's permanent injunction insofar as such ruling abridged our First Amendment rights.


OCTOBER - 2003,  Appeal Initial Motion.
Nissan Computer filed its Opening Brief (PDF) to the 9th circuit court of appeals, addressing the district court's rulings on:
A. Trademark Dilution
B. Trademark Infringement
C. Final Injunction
NOTE: It's a long brief, but will allow you to better understand the merits of this case.


JANUARY - 2004,  Appeal Reply Motion.
Nissan Motor filed a consolidated brief opposing Nissan Computer's opening brief and a cross appeal on:
A. Trademark Infringement.
B. Final Injunction.
C. Requesting the court to force transfer Nissan.com to them.

Nissan Computer filed a Consolidated Brief
(PDF) opposing NMC's cross appeal and replying to their opposition.


AUGUST - 2004,  Appeal Ruling.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a ruling reversing the case and remanding it back to the District Court. In a Published Opinion (PDF) the Appellant Court rejected Nissan Motor's cross appeal and reversed the District Court's ruling against Nissan Computer on Dilution and the broad scope of the Final Injunction.
Not to our surprise, Nissan Motor filed a motion for rehearing by the 9th Circuit's panel and a rehearing en banc (a rehearing by all of the Court of Appeals Judges).  On September 23rd 2004, the 9th Circuit issued an Order, denying Nissan Motor's motion for rehearing and rehearing en banc.


DECEMBER - 2004,  Petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Nissan Motor filed a Petition for a "Writ of Certiorari" to the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking review of the Appellant Court ruling on the Infringement and First Amendment issues.


APRIL - 2005,  U.S. Supreme Court Order.
The U.S. Supreme Court has issued an Order, (PDF) Denying Nissan Motor's Petition for a "Writ of Certiorari".


In another example of Nissan Motor's flexing its corporate might, age old eminent domain laws have been rewritten in Mississippi allowing the State to take land and homes from local landowners for the sole private benefit of Nissan Motors.  How the State of Mississippi was "convinced" to change these laws is unclear, but it is clear that local individuals are being deprived of their property rights so Nissan Motors can build its own plant.
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Public attention to this type of corporate behavior is most important.  We are asking for your continued and crucial support by contacting the media and stating the importance of bringing these facts to the public.  Remember that it was Public Opinion and Awareness that ended the Soviet Union, not missiles.  Together we can make a difference and help in keeping our freedom intact, for us, for our children and for our grandchildren.
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