For quite some time, a gay activist has utilized a variation of my name on a website that casts aspersions on my biblical stances on the topic of homosexuality. I fully understand that many people oppose my sermons and public statements on homosexuality, as is their absolute right. But when this man chose to utilize an adaptation of my own name to counter my messages, he stepped over legal lines.
In fact, this week, U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton ruled that this man, Christopher Lamparello of New York, must stop using his website that uses the variation of my name. This is an important ruling for all public figures.
Judge Hilton said the domain name for Mr. Lamparello’s site, fallwell.com, was “nearly identical” to my registered trademark “Jerry Falwell” name and was likely to confuse Internet users who attempted to get information from my own websites.
Judge Hilton added that Mr. Lamparello actually had intent to “tarnish or disparage” me and my name by diverting people from the Jerry Falwell Ministries’ website, falwell.com. The judge said it was probable that web surfers would actually believe the two sites “share a common affiliation or sponsorship.”
Mr. Lamparello was also attempting to make a profit off of my name by selling a book on his website through a link to Amazon.com. My attorneys, John Midlen and Jerry Falwell Jr., have worked very hard to ensure this victory, and I congratulate them.
I am, of course, very pleased with the ruling against Mr. Lamparello. One cannot infringe on the trademark of another person or company and pretend it is within their First Amendment rights. Judge Hilton recognized this fact.
Mr. Lamparello was not only attempting to infringe on my name for personal gain, but, for whatever reason, he is extremely hostile to the message of the Gospel I preach and was therefore trying to do damage to the message I deliver. He challenges the fact that many Christians have turned their backs on their former homosexual lifestyles after returning to their first love, Jesus Christ. In addition to his own rantings against Christians, links on Mr. Lamparello’s website connect visitors to sites that challenge the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality.
While his site notes that it is not affiliated with my ministry, there is still deceit in the use of my name to promote an agenda that starkly counters my own.
There is terrific animosity from the radical gay lobbying groups that try to silence anyone who doesn’t agree with their philosophy or their behavior. But they simply cannot steal my name – or anyone else’s name – to promote their own agenda.
Sadly, Mr. Lamparello’s attorneys have suggested that he plans to appeal this decision.
They should recall that last year, in a similar case, another man was forced to relinquish the domain names jerryfalwell.com and jerryfallwell.com after I had threatened to bring suit against him over trademark infringement.
I believe the law will continue to be on my side. Mr. Lamparello has every right to promote his agenda, but not by utilizing my name. In fact, I would disapprove of a conservative website operator who opted to utilize a homosexual celebrity’s name to promote a biblical agenda. A person’s name is his/her own and our legal system needs to ensure that Americans – specifically public figures – are afforded the proper protections in protecting our own names.
I would think that even my most liberal critics would agree.