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Gaymers fight to keep their name

A group of Reddit users have enlisted the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation to battle a trademark claim on "gaymer."


Michelle Jaworski


Posted on Jan 23, 2013   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 2:56 am CDT

A group of gaymers on Reddit are fighting to keep their name after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the website

They filed a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) earlier Wednesday and asked the USPTO to cancel the trademark on “gaymer” filed by founder Chris Vizzini in 2007.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the law firm Perkins Coie are representing the redditors from r/gaymers—a forum on the social news site for LGBT and straight alliance gamers—pro bono, which means that they are voluntarily taken on the case without payment or at a reduced fee as a public service.

“This registration should have never been granted,” EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said in a statement.

“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.”

EFF staff atorney Julie Samuels has said that the trademark registration on the word “gaymer” is “being used to threaten free speech.”

The term “gaymer” has been around as early as 1997, and entries for the word have been on Urban Dictionary, a slang dictionary with user-submitted definitions, since 2004.

The subreddit started in 2011. They now have over 21,000 subscribers and regularly have video chat nights and play multi-player games together.

Vizzini sent the cease-and-desist letter to the Reddit staff last September and even went to r/gaymers to argue his case after facing backlash from redditors and harsh comments on his website.

“As a trademark and word mark holder, it’s my responsibility to defend the marks, otherwise I could lose them,” Vizzini wrote, explaining that he just wanted r/gaymers to change their name.

An r/gaymers moderator, ozuri, who has been involved with intellectual property for a most of his career in video games, took to the subreddit to explain the situation Wednesday.

“So the actions we have taken are not because we don’t believe in intellectual property protection,” ozuri wrote. “They are because we believe the term ‘gaymer’ is a word that should remain in the public domain, free for use and not ‘owned’ by any particular individual or organization.”

Photo via blmurch/Flickr

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*First Published: Jan 23, 2013, 5:32 pm CST