June 25, 2013 | By corynne mcsherry

Gaymer.org Creator Censors Self But Holds On To Bogus Trademark (For Now)

Sometimes people just don't get it.

Last year, we were surprised and disappointed to hear that Chris Vizzini, the founder of a website focused on the gay gaming community (and the owner of a bogus trademark in the term "gaymer") was claiming that Reddit's /r/gaymers community infringed that trademark. More specifically, we were shocked he'd managed to register the mark in the first place. After all, the term "gaymer" just describes a group of people and interests. It's not connected to any single business, and it is a shame the Patent and Trademark Office didn't see that.

EFF stepped in to help the /r/gaymer community, and we were soon joined by the good folks at Perkins Coie, LLP. Together, we filed a petition to cancel the mark, because it was generic and descriptive. That petition is still pending.

In the meantime, though, Vizzini has decided to close his site. He's claiming that he is forced to do so because our petition to cancel his trademark has made running the site too painful. He's also claiming that the petition forced him to rack up legal bills he cannot afford.

Inconceivable. No one involved with the petition, least of all EFF, thought Vizzini should shut down his site, stop using the term "gaymer," or hire lawyers. To the contrary, the point of the petition is to make sure that everyone can use the term – including Vizzini – without worrying that they might be violating trademark law. And, if he wanted to avoid legal bills, he could have done the right thing, conceded that the registration shouldn't have been granted, and released the term back into the cultural commons. Until he does that, or the PTO grants our petition, a legal cloud still hangs over the term.

It's unfortunate that Vizzini started this fight, and equally unfortunate that he couldn't see that he had better options for ending it.


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