Texas lawyer fights to keep domain name

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Texas attorney fighting with the Texas Department of Insurance to keep his domain name has had his First Amendment claim reinstated by a federal appeals court.

John Gibson represents injured employees in workers-compensation cases in Texas. He maintains a website with the domain name texasworkerscomplaw.com. On his site, he discusses matters related to the state workers-compensation law and advertises his practice.

In February 2011, the Texas Department of Insurance sent him a cease-and-desist letter, telling him not to use the domain name anymore. The state agency said Gibson was violating a Texas law prohibiting businesses or persons from using “any term using both ‘Texas’ and ‘Workers Compensation’ or any term using both ‘Texas’ and ‘Workers Comp.’”

The law is designed to prevent consumers from being confused or misled into thinking that information from others comes from or is endorsed by the state.

Instead of responding to the cease-and-desist letter, Gibson filed a lawsuit in federal court. He contends he has a First Amendment free-speech right to use his domain name. Gibson also alleged that the application of the Texas law constituted an impermissible prior restraint on speech.

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