Intellectual Property Keyed to Merges
Lamparello v. Falwell
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Reverend Jerry Falwell (Reverend Falwell) (Defendant) is a nationally known and outspoken minister who actively comments on politics and public affairs. He holds the common law trademarks “Jerry Falwell” and “Falwell,” and the registered trademark “Listen America with Jerry Falwell.” Jerry Falwell Ministries can be found online at www.falwell.com, a website that receives 9,000 hits a day. After hearing Reverend Falwell’s (Defendant) views on homosexuality, Lamparello (Plaintiff) registered the domain name to respond to what he believed where “untruths about gay people.” The homepage prominently indicated that the website was not affiliated with Defendant or his ministry and provided a link to Defendant’s site for those who wished to visit that site. Plaintiff’s site received about 200 hits per day, and no goods or services were sold on it. Defendant sent Plaintiff cease and desist letters to stop using www.fallwell.com or any variation of Defendant’s name as a domain name. Ultimately, Plaintiff filed an action against Defendant seeking a declaratory judgment of noninfringement. Defendant counter-claimed, alleging trademark infringement under 15 U.S.C. § 1114 (2000), false designation of origin under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), unfair competition under 15 U.S.C. § 1126 and state common law and cybersquatting under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d). The district court granted summary judgment to Reverend Falwell (Defendant), enjoined Lamparello (Plaintiff) from using Defendant’s mark at www.fallwell.com, and required Plaintiff to transfer the domain name to Reverend Falwell. The court of appeals granted review.
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