Former Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., is suing the school, alleging trademark infringement by using Jerry Falwell Sr.’s likeness without consulting the family, Religion News Service reported.
The lawsuit – filed in federal court on behalf of Falwell Jr. and the family trust – claims that the school is misappropriating the name and image of Falwell Sr., conservative Christian evangelist and co-founder of the school.
“The University has now-repeatedly distributed advertising and promotional materials that use the JERRY FALWELL trademark — as well as Dr. Falwell’s name and image — in a manner that is likely to leave consumers confused as to the relationship between Liberty University and the JERRY FALWELL brand and the Falwell Family Trust,” the lawsuit alleges.
Liberty created a custom font based on Falwell Sr.’s handwriting and a hologram of the man, and also intends to create a Jerry Falwell campus welcome center for future students, the suit claims.
Falwell Sr.’s 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,” a Liberty spokesperson said in a statement.
The spokesperson claimed the legal action was a response to a denied request made by Falwell Jr. for Liberty “to pay $7 million dollars for his permission to continue to use the name of Liberty’s founder for the next four years” and allow him to maintain “total editorial control of Liberty’s use of the name of Liberty’s founder.”
Falwell Jr. resigned as president in 2020 amid scandals involving his family.