EFF backs Reddit ‘gaymers’ by seeking cancelation of trademark

‘We are happy to help them fight back and make sure the term goes back to the public domain’

EFF logo

The Electronic Frontier Foundation today officially petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to rescind the trademark registration it had awarded a website operator on the word "gaymer," a term long used generically and without restriction.

From an EFF press release:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the law firm Perkins Coie represent the Reddit gaymers - members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community who have an active interest in video games.   The group was spurred into action after blogger Chris Vizzini - who registered the trademark after creating a website targeting the gaymer community at gaymer.org - sent a cease-and-desist letter complaining about the long-running subreddit group called r/gaymers.

"This registration should never have been granted," said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "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."

Meanwhile, on the section of Reddit that's involved in the dispute, r/gaymers, a message has been posted announcing the EFF action and explaining its significance:

gaymers

"Reddit is not a haven for trademark infringement.  They will not protect you if you infringe a trademark.  But this case isn't about infringement, it's about harassment and the enforcement of an illegitimately granted trademark. Specifically, we believe that an entity should not be allowed to co-opt a group's identity for personal enrichment, power, or ego.

"So the actions we have taken are not because we don't believe in intellectual property protection. 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."

For his part, Vizzini has defended the legitimacy of his trademark on the very forum he is trying to stop from using it, Reddit's r/gaymers:

"As a trademark and word mark holder, it's my responsibility to defend the marks, otherwise I could lose them.

"I started Gaymer.org in 2003 and began to build Gaymer as a brand. Thats why I trademarked and word marked the name. At that time, there was only one other site around dedicated to gay gamers. I have spent countless hours and thousands of dollars on Gaymer.org. I have done so gladly as it's brought happiness to many people. ...

"I cannot stress this enough. I have no problem with other gay gaming sites. I think it's great others exist. The only problem I have is when the Gaymer name is used."

The Wikipedia page about the word gaymer includes numerous examples of its longstanding generic use, with the oldest documented instance dating back to 1991.

You can read the EFF's petition to cancel the trademark here.

(Update: I didn't know this: Seems Gaymers means something completely different (or at least can) in the U.K.)

(Update 2: Seems there's been another trademark dispute involving the gaymer community.)

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