Supreme Court Won't Hear Falwell Appeal

News and Advance, Lynchburg VA/April 17, 2006

Washington -- The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear an appeal from the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who was seeking to shut down of a Web site carrying a similar name to his but bearing opposing views on gay people.

Falwell claims that a New York City man improperly draws people to the site ( by using a common misspelling of the reverend’s name as the site’s domain name.

Previously, a federal judge had sided with Falwell on grounds that Christopher Lamparello’s domain name was nearly identical to the trademark bearing Falwell’s name and could confuse Web surfers.

But last year, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and said that Lamparello was free to operate his “gripe site” about Falwell’s views on gays.

Falwell has been a vocal critic of the lifestyles of homosexuals based on his interpretation of the Bible.

Lamparello “clearly created his Web site intending only to provide a forum to criticize ideas, not to steal customers,” the appeals court said.

The Supreme Court refused Monday to take up the case.

Falwell’s Web site is more high-tech, with pictures of the minister, and sales material for books and videos. The Jerry Falwell Ministries site is

Lamparello’s Web site is mainly in black and white, with no photographs or items for sale. He says that Falwell is wrong in preaching that gay people are sinners who can change. At the top of the site a disclaimer reads: “This Web site is NOT affiliated with Rev. Dr. Jerry Falwell or his ministry.”

Falwell’s attorneys have fought over domain names in the past. Three years ago, an Illinois man surrendered the domain names and after Falwell threatened to sue for trademark infringement.

Jerry Falwell Jr., an attorney, said Jerry Falwell Ministries in the past has been successful in protecting other copyrighted domain names.

“While we believe that the courts have misinterpreted the law in the case at hand concerning, we are pleased that the domain names that are most important to our organization have been protected,” Falwell Sr. said in a written statement released by his office.

Falwell’s lawyers said the court’s decision allows “some very bad law made by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to stand, at least for now.”

“The decision essentially permits trademark infringement carte blanche if done without a financial profit motive,” said John H. Midlen Jr., intellectual property counsel for Falwell.

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