We told you about Gaymercon, the upcoming video-game convention for LGBT folks and their friends that’s so highly anticipated organizers collected more than three times their $25,000 Kickstarter goal before the deadline.
Sadly, another group of gay gamers is facing a more dismal fate: GayGamer.net is reporting on ” r/gaymers,” a Reddit forum facing a cease-and-desist order from Gaymer.org founder Chris Vizzini, who trademarked the term “gaymer” in 2007.
Vizzini is asking the 16,000-subscriber-strong forum to be taken down.
MisterGhost, one of the forum’s moderators, was not pleased about the situation and shared his opinion:
”It would seem that the owner of gaymer.org is an incredible douchenozzle and has decided that we somehow are infringing upon his right to run a very subpar blog…
It would be easy for us to argue that gaymers is just descriptive of Gay Gamers and is just descriptive mark and not some sort of corporate logo or trademark. Now if anyone has any question in regards to this claim: I am sure that the gentleman sending the cease and desist, who is bringing these claims against us, would be happy to answer the questions of you 16,000 gaymers.
I am sad, sure, I will be honest, I’m not the happiest guy around. However, you dudes have become happy. People I know have improved their lives, RedditHolmes has gotten married to a gaymer for fucks sake, people have gotten jobs, even some of you have confided in me the want to commit suicide, unless I or someone else convinced you otherwise. Guys, Ladies, and everyone else, this is bullshit, IT IS NONSENSE, quite frankly FUCK THIS ENTIRE LEGAL ENDEAVOR. Reddit will not help us, neither will anyone else. The estimate I got for defending us legally would be above 50k dollars, and honestly since I was begging for food and money trying to pay for gaymers mumble, I don’t think that we are gonna be able to get the money needed.”
While Vizzini has the right to shut down unauthorized public use of “gaymer,” some are saying the term has evolved into general terminology, which would be protected by the ban on descriptive trademarks. (You can’t, for example, trademark the word “queer.”) But to fight the trademark could cost upwards of $50,000 in legal fees.
Another r/gaymers moderator, MrPookers, provided more detailed information:
“If reddit complies with this cease and desist order, /r/gaymers and its entire history of posts and comments could be destroyed. In the nearly two years of its existence, we’ve had a gift exchange and meetups that have brought together hundreds of gaymers all over the world, spawned guilds and corporations and brought two gaymers together in an actual, real-life marriage. We have built a very real community here. They can take the name gaymers from our subreddit, we can’t fight that battle legally — but we have to keep our history.”
MrPookers instructed members to migrate to /r/internauts, at least until the dust settles. Facing mobs of angry MMO players, Vizzini posted about the situation on Reddit himself:
“First and foremost, I never asked for the sub-reddit gaymer to be removed. I emailed reddit twice asking that they simply rename the community to something else. They did not respond. 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.”
Vizzini also explained why GaymerCon was not similarly served with a cease-and-desist order:
“They do not have an online community. That is a convention. My marks pertain to online communities. Should they ever add an online community, then I would have issue with that.”
A gay geek subculture—embracing video games, comic books, Dr. Who, etc.—has blossomed in recent decades and provides safe space for people who sometimes feel like outsiders among outsiders. “It’s thorny—I wouldn’t want to disrespect due process and intellectual property but I guess I’m disappointed,” says GeeksOut‘s Jono Jarret. “It’s such a fun, clever and, above all, positive term that’s already been so embraced by the community. It could be such a great inclusive word instead of, now, an exclusive word.”
It’s definitely a complicated situation that raises all kinds of legal, sociological and linguistic issues. But you don’t have to be a gamer—or a lawyer—to have an opinion: Fire away in the comments section below.
And if you are a lawyer, and want to offer r/gaymers some pro bono counsel, you can reach out to them here.