Feb 22, 2019

What's My Favorite Website?

Pennebaker Director of Digital Strategy, Ian DeRanieri, Talks Nissan.com
By Ian DeRanieri

What's My Favorite Website (Besides Pennebaker.com of course) and Why?


Because it tells a story about a small company defending his family surname against a global corporation who rebranded inconsiderably. Nissan Motors has tried to sue Nissan Computer many times with very limited success. The man was using his surname for business purposes when Nissan Motors was known as Datsun. When Datsun rebranded, it appears they did so somewhat carelessly with regard to internet domains and trademarks. After more than a decade of legal struggles, the case seems to have been retired.

Nissan Computers, to this day, can retain much of their rights to the use of their name without fear of retribution. However, Nissan Motors filed with the USPTO to register a trademark in the computer & computer peripherals space, and was awarded the trademark.

I love this site because it brings light to the consequences of the ambiguities of intellectual property. This modern era is rife with both internet originality and blatant infringement. I don't fault Nissan Motors for trying to protect their brand. They're acting in their own best interest. I'm not privy to the backstory from the rebrand, but I can only imagine that they either failed to account for the early internet in their brand management, or thought that their size would make the smaller company capitulate.

I think this story serves as a reminder that brand managers ought to pay attention to the market, and never rest on their laurels. Nissan continues to provide value, despite not having some crucial parts of their brand protected. That's why they continue to be successful. However, any company can be threatened if they lose sight of their customers and the value they provide to those customers.

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