The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear a domain name case involving evangelist Jerry Falwell.
The decision by the Surpreme Court means that the owner of the Fallwell.com domain can keep the domain.It is a common typo of Falwell’s Falwell.com domain. The owner of Fallwell.com created a site critical of Jerry Falwell’s political views.
According to an Associated Press article:
But last year, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals…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.
This is common reasoning in political UDRP disputes. If the domain name owner is not trying to profit from the politician’s name then she usually wins the dispute. Falwell claimed trademark infringement on Falwell’s ministry. The owner of Fallwell.com argued that Falwell is a politician. George Bush could trademark his name or an association name after himself, but that could not keep people from registering domain names similar to his name. It’s a freedom of speech issue.
Jerry Falwell lost a UDRP decision in 2002 over the domain names jerryfalwell.com and jerryfallwell.com. Falwell threatened to sue the owner of those domains. The owner decided to hand the domains over rather than face a court battle.