WASHINGTON — Evangelist Jerry Falwell lost a U.S. Supreme Court appeal Monday of a case that sought to shut down a Web site with a similar name but opposite views on homosexuals.
Falwell claims that a gay man from New York City 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, whose ministry based in Virginia but has ties around the world, on grounds that Christopher Lamparello's domain name was nearly identical to the trademark bearing Falwell's name and could confuse Web surfers.
Last year, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and said 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 Supreme Court has now refused to take Falwell’s appeal of that ruling.
Falwell's Web site, http://www.falwell.com, is more high-tech, with pictures of the minister and sales material for books and videos.
Lamparello's Web site, which has a link to the Falwell Ministries' site, is mainly in black and white, with no photographs or items for sale. He contends Falwell is wrong in preaching that gay people are sinners who could become heterosexual if they wished. 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.
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