WASHINGTON – Evangelist Jerry Falwell on Monday lost a Supreme Court appeal of a case that sought to shut down a Web site with a similar name but opposite views on gays.
Falwell claims that a gay New York City man improperly draws people to a site by using a common misspelling of the reverend's name as the site's domain name.
A federal judge sided with Falwell, who runs a Virginia-based ministries, 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 at http://www.fallwell.com. Lamparello "clearly created his Web site intending only to provide a forum to criticize ideas, not to steal customers," the court said.
The Jerry Falwell Ministries site is: http://www.falwell.com.
Falwell's Web site is more high-tech, with pictures of the minister, and sales material for books and videos.
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 jerryfalwell.com and jerryfallwell.com after Falwell threatened to sue for trademark infringement.