‘Nissan.com’ site back in court, Nissan Motors not involved this time

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A Wikipedia page titled “Nissan Motors v. Nissan Computer” lays out the barest bones of a commercial spat between late North Carolina resident Uzi Nissan and Nissan Motors. Nissan the person began incorporating businesses using his last name around 1980, when Nissan the car company was still known almost exclusively as Datsun. In 1994, almost as soon as registrars cropped up to sell domains to the public, Mr. Nissan registered Nissan.com and Nissan.net. In 1999, the car company decided it wanted the domain and fought Mr. Nissan for it. The courts decided the case in Uzi’s favor in 2004, but one could say the battle continues to this day: Uzi continued to publicize the court case, and the Nissan Motors site remains parked at NissanUSA.com instead of just Nissan. The battle has a new front, too, even though Uzi Nissan died in 2020 of Covid complications. The Drive reports that in a civil action filed in Virginia on October 17, his estate claims “a thief gained unauthorized access to Mr. Nissan’s domain name management accounts and stole the domain names.”

The estate doesn’t know the thief’s identity, referring to the person or entity in the court filing as John Doe. Mr. Nissan maintained the domain with a registrar called GKG since purchase, and the filing alleges John Doe used fraudulent documents to get GKG to transfer ownership. A WhoIs search shows the transfer occurred on October 10, the term of ownership not to expire until 2029. The paperwork states “GKG.NET did not deny, dispute, or question that the Defendant Domain Names were transferred without authorization, but GKG.NET has been unwilling to secure the return of the domain names to Plaintiff’s control.” Somehow, the thief prevented GKG from sending a ‘change of domain status’ e-mail that every registrar is obligated to send, intended to prevent just this kind of fraud, so the estate didn’t become aware of the transfer until it went through its own records. On top of that, the estate claims whoever owns the domains has already tried to sell them.

The Nissan estate wants its site names back and to have them transferred to GoDaddy, plus an award for court costs, “reasonable attorney’s fees,” and “such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.” In the meantime, Nissan.com and Nissan.net are down, which might be more annoying to the car company than the confusion with Uzi’s enterprises, seeing that Uzi’s sites at least pointed accidental visitors to the car company. 

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