San Francisco - 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.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the law firm Perkins Coie represented a group of Reddit gaymers – members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community who have an active interest in videogames – after their long-running Reddit forum called r/gaymers was the target of a cease-and-desist letter complaining about their use of the term. It turns out blogger Chris Vizzini, who started a website called gaymer.org in 2006, had registered a trademark on 'gaymer' even though it had been in widespread use long before Vizzini started his website. With the help of EFF and Perkins Coie, the Reddit gamers asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to cancel the trademark in January of this year. Vizzini ultimately decided to surrender the mark, which was officially revoked this week.
"Gaymer is a term that everyone can use – including Vizzini – and we're pleased that there is no legal question about that now," said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "But the real tragedy is that this term was ever registered for a trademark in the first place. You shouldn't have to go through a big legal battle to use a word you've used for years. The PTO must get more vigilant about the trademarks it allows to be registered in order to protect everyone's free speech rights."
"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."
"We are thrilled with this result," said Judy Jennison, lead counsel for Perkins Coie. "It's been a privilege to work with EFF and Zack to clean up the registry and support an open discussion."
Cancellation from USPTO:
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Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation