Lamparello vs. Falwell (2004 & 2005)
Q1. (i) Scheme of intellectual property protecting Dr. Falwell
Dr. Falwell (Jerry Falwell) had a website under his name, falwell.com. Lamparello also registered a web site, fallwell.com which was nearly identical to that of Falwell. To get to the bottom of it, Dr. Falwell was an anti-homosexuality activist while Lamparello a homosexuality activist. The intellectual property that protected Dr. Falwell was his name, Falwell, had been moulded by Lamparello to look like his. Falwell was not the legal name of Lamparello but he used it as the domain name registration name of his website.
(ii) Cause of action
Both parties sued each other but Lamparello was the first one to file a lawsuit against Dr. Falwell so that he could both be relieved of the fact that he didn’t breach or abuse in any way the defendants registered trademark privileges and that what he had done was shielded by the standards of just use, compulsory use as stated in the First Amendment. The other reason why he had sued was after Falwell and his ministry had used legal attempts to prevent him (plaintiff) from applying the domain trademark “fallwell”. The other party (Dr. Falwell) sued under the basis of violation, unjust competition, untrue moulding of source and cyber squatting.
Q2. Do I agree with District Court or Circuit Court?
The District court had made a verdict in the favour of the defendant (Dr. Falwell). Say the District Court:
“Plaintiff’s domain name is identical to the substantive portion of the trademark…likely that the internet users will conclude that both the domain and the defendant names share a common affiliation or sponsorship…used meta-tags…exact type of confusion.”
According to the viewpoint of the court which in the favour of Dr. Falwell , it reached a verdict by saying that the claimant had violated the registered trademark of the defendant and also going against the enact law “Anticyber squatting” Consumer Protection Act). As if that wasn’t enough, it went ahead to support its verdict by adding that the plaintiff had the intention of
However, Lamparello appealed to the Circuit Court which ruled in favour of him. Say the Circuit Court:
“After even a quick glance at the content of the website at fallwall.com, no one seeking Reverend Falwell’s guidance would be misled by the domain name fallwell.com into believing Reverend Falwell authorized the content of that website (Company, 2005).No one would believe that Reverend Falwell sponsored a site criticizing himself, his positions, and his interpretations of the bible.”
According to the viewpoint of the Circuit Court, the claimant used his website to castigate the defendant, the website of the claimant did not bring up a possibility of misunderstanding, and the claimant did not register many trademarks that were related to the defendant’s name. However, the ruling of the Circuit that stood on itself like a nugget on sinking soil was where it ruled that the Fist Amendment did not control language.
My opinion: it may be viewed as if the defendant was right or as if the plaintiff was wrong in the using of the defendants domain name. However, it must be understood that the plaintiff did not use the website for financial gains rather as a debate site. As in the link that he provided that could be used to purchase the book, it had been investigated that he didn’t gain anything from the sales of the book. The reason why he provided the link was as a reference of his argument about homosexuality (Company, 2005) As the Circuit Court puts it plainly, the site clients of the reverend had many reasons (such as no one would sponsor a link to preach against him and that the link wasn’t similar to that of the defendant). I Side with the Circuit Court.
Retrieved on June 23 2011 from http://www.internetlibrary.com/cases/lib_case352.cfm
(Company, 2005) (Company, West federal reporter: cases argued and determined in the United States courts of appeals and Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals, 2005)
Company, W. P. (2005). West federal reporter: cases argued and determined in the United States courts of appeals and Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals. New York: West Pub. Co.
Company, W. P. (2005). West federal supplement. New York: West Pub. Co.