Friday, August 26, 2005

Fourth Circuit reverses district court order enjoining anti-Falwell website

In Lamparello v. Falwell, the Fourth Circuit reversed a district court order enjoining Lamparello from maintaining a website critical of Reverend Jerry Falwell. Lamparello registered the domain name to respond to what he believed were "untruths about gay people." The homepage advised that the website was not affiliated with Jerry Falwell.

First, the Fourth Circuit rejected Falwell's Lanham Act claim (trademark claim). The court found that although the domain name of Lamparello's website,, closely resembled Falwell's mark, Lamparello clearly created his website intending only to provide a forum to criticize ideas, not to steal customers. Hence, there was no likelihood of confusion--Falwell's trademark was not infringed.

The Fourth Circuit also rejected Falwell's cybersquatting claim. The Fourth Circuit concluded that Reverend Falwell could not demonstrate that Lamparello "had a bad faith intent to profit from using the [] domain name." Lamparello was simply exercising his First Amendment rights to criticize Falwell's stance on homosexuals.

The Court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment and entered judgment for Lamparello.


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