Jerry Falwell is the subject of a couple of websites that he would prefer that you didn't see. The sites use his name in their domain name on the web, and poke fun at him. His lawyers sent cease and desist letters to the web master of www.jerryfalwell.com asking that the name stopped being used. The site continued, so he brought an arbitration action against the owner, claiming that he had a common law trademark in his name. Members of the World Intellectual Property Organization, acting as arbitrators, denied the complaint:
The complainant has failed to show that his name, well known as it is, has been used in a trademark sense as a label of particular goods or services. There are many well-known ministers, religious figures and academics. Are their sermons or lectures to be considered commercial goods?"The ruling also applies to another site about the Reverend, www.jerryfallwell.com.
[For more on parody web sites, see the excellent Findlaw Writ article: The Law and Politics of Internet Activism: The Yes Men, Peta, Rtmark, And The Phenomenon Of Parody Websites. ]