LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Former Liberty University President, Jerry Falwell Jr. has filed a lawsuit against Liberty University (LU) after claiming the school has been exploiting the Jerry Falwell trademark, name, and more.
According to court documents, Falwell Jr. claims LU has been using his father’s likeness, image, and the “Jerry Falwell” trademark without permission or license to create a false association with the brand. The lawsuit alleged that Liberty’s use of Dr. Falwell’s intellectual property is authorized when it is not.
The late Dr. Falwell founded Liberty University in 1971. For more than 50 years, the Jerry Falwell trademark has been recognized by consumers as the designation of Dr. Falwell’s brand of religious goods and services.
The lawsuit claims, “Liberty intends to confuse consumers into believing that Liberty—including its Jerry Falwell Center is endorsed or sponsored by, or otherwise associated or affiliated with, the Jerry Falwell brand and the Falwell Family Trust. It is not.”
According to court documents, the school is allegedly wrongfully exploiting the trademark and advertising its plans to open the Jerry Falwell Center as a new welcome center for future students. The lawsuit claims this center will be used to promote the university.
In the federal lawsuit, LU is being asked to stop using Falwell Senior’s name and image. At this time it is unknown how much the suit is seeking.
WFXR News reached out to Liberty University and they released the following statement:
The university prefers not to comment on active litigation, but some context is helpful, here. Dr. Jerry. Falwell, Sr. founded Liberty University in 1971. His name is synonymous with Liberty University, and for decades has been used across campus, including on buildings such as the Jerry Falwell Museum and the Jerry Falwell Library. This lawsuit is in response to a specific request by Mr. Falwell, one trustee of the Falwell Family Trust, for the university to pay $7 million dollars for his permission to continue to use the name of Liberty’s founder for the next four years. Included in his demand is the expectation that, in effect, former president Falwell would also have total editorial control of Liberty’s use of the name of Liberty’s founder. The university declined the request; so, this lawsuit was filed by Mr. Falwell. Liberty University is confident it will ultimately prevail in this case and the university will be able to maintain its use of the name of its founder.”