Former-Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. has taken legal action against the Christian college, accusing them of trademark infringement. Falwell Jr. claims that the university has been using the image of his late father, the school’s founder, without obtaining permission. This lawsuit is just one of many in an ongoing legal battle between Falwell Jr. and the university, which began following his resignation amidst a sex scandal in 2020.
Earlier this year, Falwell Jr. filed a suit against the Virginia-based university, seeking $8.5 million in retirement benefits that he believed he was owed. This was preceded by defamation and breach of contract lawsuits that he had previously filed against the institution. In response, the university countered with its own breach of contract and fiduciary suit against Falwell Jr.
The recent lawsuit alleges that despite Falwell Jr.’s departure, the school has continued to move forward with plans for a $35 million Jerry Falwell Center, dedicated to honoring his father’s legacy.
Plans for the Building
Plans for the building envision an impressive entrance, featuring an engraving of the elder Falwell’s signature. Inside, visitors will be treated to a captivating hologram tour, showcasing Jerry Falwell Sr.’s likeness and adorned with his memorable quotes.
A Dispute Over Intellectual Property
However, the younger Falwell has lodged a complaint, asserting that a trust controlled by him and his siblings holds the rights to his father’s name, intellectual property, and likeness. According to him, the school has been using them without the family’s consent.
A Plea for Respectful Cooperation
Expressing his dissatisfaction, the younger Falwell described the building as an “ostentatious Disney-esque shrine” and accused the university of neglecting the family’s request for a licensing agreement. He had even sent a proposed license agreement to the university leadership, hoping for meaningful consultation on the use of his father’s intellectual property.
Silence from the University
The university spokesman refrained from providing any immediate comment on the matter.