Court Nixes Claims Over Religious Parody Web Site

     DENVER (CN) – A pro-Mormon Web site parodying a site operated by evangelical critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not create marketing confusion, the 10th Circuit ruled.



Utah Lighthouse Ministry sells books as part of its mission to critique the LDS Church. Lighthouse Ministry sued the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR), a volunteer organization that responds to Mormon criticism, for posting a site that looks similar to its own.
     FAIR’s site uses the same design as the Lighthouse Ministry’s, but includes the slogan “Destroy, Mislead, Deceive.” It sells no merchandise, while the Lighthouse Ministry sells books online and at an actual store.
     “Not every use of the Internet is necessarily commercial for the purposes of the Lanham Act,” Judge Parker wrote. “The fact that the (FAIR) site is a parody provides an even more convincing explanation of why consumers are unlikely to be confused.”
     Parker also upheld the trial court’s summary judgment on the Lighthouse Ministry’s cybersquatting claim. While FAIR did register the domain names utahlighthouse.org and utahlighthouse.com for the parody site, the plaintiff failed to show that FAIR had profited from the sites.

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