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Falwell Family Trust sues Liberty University over alleged trademark infringement

On Friday, Jerry Falwell Jr. announced the Falwell Family Trust is suing Liberty University over alleged unauthorized use of Dr. Jerry Falwell’s trademark, name and image.

After his passing in 2007, Dr. Falwell left his intellectual property to his children, of which Jerry Falwell, Jr. is a trustee and beneficiary.

The lawsuit alleges that the university wrongfully “exploited” Dr. Falwell’s name and image, as well as the “Jerry Falwell” trademark, by use without permission and falsely associating the Jerry Falwell brand with the university.

“Liberty announced it is spending approximately $35 million of student tuition money on an ostentatious Disneyesque shrine, including an interactive hologram,” Falwell, Jr. said. “I asked the University to stop improperly using my father’s intellectual property and sent the University leadership a proposed license agreement that would cover the Jerry Falwell Center, assuming there was meaningful consultation with the family about the use of my father’s intellectual property. Unfortunately, they chose to continue using it without authorization, and in an undignified manner that seems to attempt to aggrandize and deify my father in a fawning way that he would never have wanted or approved. It really is the ‘Jerry First Center’ blatantly ignoring the fact that my father was known for producing millions of ‘Jesus First’ lapel pins free of charge for anyone to wear.”

According to the lawsuit, Liberty acknowledged the Trust’s ownership of the trademark, but continued to use it to “create confusion.”

The lawsuit alleges that a Jerry Falwell campaign uses Dr. Falwell’s name on the the upcoming Jerry Falwell Center, image and trademark in Liberty commercials and other advertising, uses his handwriting and signature in promotional materials, and casts of his footprints for a walking tour of the campus.

The lawsuit also claims Liberty University used Falwell intellectual property to “solicit donations and to sell naming rights” to rooms in the Jerry Falwell Center.

Source: WSLS News 10

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