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I reported on Uzi Nissan’s legacy battling the Nissan car company in court back in early 2018, as my first big assignment as a full-time writer for the website. I interviewed Uzi several times, sifting through a decade of court documents, attempting to recall one of the most inspiring and stubborn underdog stories of the internet age. The only person willing to still piece it all together for me was the man himself, Uzi Nissan.
Here’s how the GoFundMe organized by Nissan’s close friends and family describes his life:
Uzi was an entrepreneur, always thinking of new ideas for businesses and for ways to help his community and those around him. Uzi was also a fighter who always stood up for what he believed in. He fought hard in a lengthy court case against a large corporation, Nissan motors, for 8 years and emerged victorious. While others may have given up, Uzi kept fighting. He was a man of principle and he always stuck to his guns.
Uzi was passionate about politics and felt strongly about the maintenance of a strong, healthy relationship between his chosen home, the United States, and his country of birth, Israel. His car was impossible to miss: a large SUV with Israeli flags waving from the windows. He was able to pass his passion for politics and Israel to his children, providing them the ability to see his vision while also growing as strong individuals.
In my many hours on the phone with Uzi, I met a guy who was passionate about his background and family, mercilessly stubborn in his motivation, and beautifully dramatic in his recollection of his life and legacy.
At the end of every call was the counter interview, so Uzi could hear how had I perceived the events as he had just told me. If he felt I misunderstood him on even the tiniest detail, it was ironed out until his story had been spelled out exactly as he intended it to be heard. It wasn’t like talking to a lawyer. It was like talking to a guy who had fired some lawyers.
And I admired that most of all about Uzi. He was naturally charismatic over the phone, not just with the careful pacing and repetition of certain phrases you could almost picture him rehearsing to himself, but with how much he clearly cared that you were listening.
The eight-year legal battle eventually settled in September of 2007, with the court ultimately striking down the car company’s claims of trademark infringement and brand dilution in favor of Uzi holding onto the nissan.com domain. Uzi claimed at the time of our interview the entire affair had ultimately cost him and his family an estimated $3 million.
No matter what cash offers Nissan presented him with, no matter what legal challenges they made against him, Uzi stood fast. As a soldier and immigrant business owner, he was challenged more than many of us will ever be in life long before he ever faced off against Nissan.
He never let anyone take his name or make him change who he was, even at great personal and material cost, because he never doubted himself. He came to America with a vision, but he passionately held on to his history and a piece of his Israeli identity, even if it was one “No Nissan Car For Me” bumper sticker at a time.
His life is defined by his faith in himself and his confidence that he’d be right in the end. I will always respect him for that, and may he rest in peace. As he told me in our interviews:
“For whatever they sued to get from me, they didn’t get. It’s not a matter of prevailing anymore, it’s what you’re going to have to go through and how much you lose and what you will lose until the end of the case.
Companies can sue you no matter what. What is another $10 million for Nissan to sue somebody? It’s nothing. It’s a drop in the bucket. They can do it.”
“What it will do to the little guy?” he said. “They’ll ruin his life.”
Here’s the GoFundMe link again, and a description of where the donations go:
Uzi was a gracious and generous man, always helping people in any way possible way and going above and beyond to make others happy and comfortable. We are mourning his loss and are sad that he is no longer with us.
This GoFundMe has been set up on behalf of Uzi Nissan to support his family, Samra, Ariel and Dvir, in their path to graduation from high school and college, as well as covering any medical or other expenses the family has accumulated after Uzi’s passing.