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Nissan Motor Co. v. Nissan Computer Corp.

A federal district judge decided that Uzi Nissan did not infringe the trademark of the Nissan auto companies by creating a web site for the Nissan Computer Company at the addresses nissan.com and nissan.net, but that the use of the domain name for ads for automaobile products was infringement, and also that use of the domain name for advertising and for ciriticism of Nissan Motor Co. diluted Nissan’s trademark. As a remedy, the judge allowed Uzi Nissan to keep his domain names, but forbade him from including any advertising and from including anything critical of Nissan Motor. Public Citizen argued, in an amicus brief filed with the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, that once advertising was forbidden on the website it became noncommercial and hence beyond the reach of the federal trademark laws, that, in any event, neither the First Amendment nor the trademark laws would tolerate an injunction barring use of the Nissan name in a domain name for a website that criticizes Nissan Motor. The court of appeals agreed in part, and affirmed in part and reversed in part, the district court’s decision.