Reddit’s Gaymer Community Wins Trademark FightBy: Josh Wolford - August 22, 2013
After a months-long legal fight involving a site owner, one reddit community, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the term “gaymer” is no longer trademarked.
The reddit community r/gaymers has won their fight against a “gaymer” trademark, held by gaymer.org operator Chris Vizzini. Back in August, 2012, Vizzini sent a cease and desist letter to reddit’s r/gaymers requesting that the subreddit change their name to no longer associate with the “gaymer” trademark.
Soon, r/gaymers had the EFF and law firm Perkins Cole on their side. The EFF claimed that the trademark was faulty from the get-go and never should have been granted.
“Gaymer is a common term that refers to members of this vibrant gaming community, and we are happy to help them fight back and make sure the term goes back to the public domain where it belongs,” said the EFF at the time.
Gaymer, a terms referring to members of the LGBT community who happen to also be avid gamers, has been around since the early 90s, according to the EFF.
And today, the EFF has announced that they have won the fight.
“In a big win for gay gamers around the world, a blogger has surrendered his bogus trademark claim on the word ‘gaymer,’ freeing online forums, conventions, and others to use the descriptive term without fear of legal threats and interference,” says an EFF blog post.
Vizzini has shut down gaymers.org, and if you go there now you’ll see a lengthy letter explaining why. Vizzini says that when the EFF and Perkins Cole threw their weight behind the folks at r/gaymer, he was just outmatched.
I…had to be realistic though. I’m just a regular person with a normal job and make a modest salary. Basically, I’m up against a huge law firm with unlimited resources plus the EFF was in on it. Some chick that works at the EFF said, “This registration isn’t being used to protect consumers – it’s being used to threaten free speech.” Which was ridiculous so I knew there was at least one moron at the EFF and hoped there would be some at Perkins Coie.
My legal Hail Mary play was to file a motion to dismiss their motion to cancel the trademark. If that went my way then this would all be over with and I wouldn’t have a big lawyer bill. Well filing a motion to dismiss a motion is way more expensive than it sounds and I have the bill to prove it.
Plus, it didn’t work. The trademark board denied my motion.
I’m letting go. I’d just be outspent if I pushed the case forward. Closing the site might seem like a case of sour grapes but it’s really not.
“Trademark is supposed to protect consumers from confusion, not to shut down discussion spaces and the names they have rallied around,” said Zack Karlsson, the r/gaymer community’s representative in the trademark challenge. “We were shocked that anyone would try to assert ownership rights in ‘gaymer’ and felt the term belonged to the public, not Mr. Vizzini.”
Vizzini claims that he was ready to let the whole thing go after the redditors agreed to puts a disclaimer up denying affiliation with gaymers.org, and that’s when he was hits with the legal challenge to void his entire trademark. He claims he never wanted to shut down r/gaymers.
“The reason I’m closing the site is because the goals were accomplished but also because I feel disconnected from gay gamers having seen their ugly side though all of this. I know it’s not all gay gamers from the members of my site but its was enough of them saying hurtful things so loudly that it has put me off. What was once a source of passion has now become a source of pain and it’s time to walk away and say goodbye. I hope the passion comes back one day because if it does, the site will come back up,” says Vizzini.
“It’s good the greater community ‘won,’ says r/gaymer poster feedle, “I know the guy who ran gaymer.org meant well, but I don’t think he completely understood the implications of sending a trademark ‘cease and desist’ letter. First off, just the act of sending such a letter was a ‘thermonuclear’ option, and I don’t think he understands that when you start getting ‘the law’ involved, the gloves come off. The greater community had every right to go seeking legal representation. You don’t launch the only nuke you have and then cry when the retaliatory strike is swift and decisive.”[Image via reddit]