Reddit ‘Gaymers’ Fight Cease-and-Desist Letter

     (CN) – Gay video game enthusiasts who belong to a Gaymer subsection of the website Reddit urged the U.S. Patent and Trademark office to cancel registration of the term.
     The Gaymers subreddit (/r/gaymers) exists in a forum of the website Reddit.com. It purports to represent a community of “more than 21,000” LGBT video game enthusiasts.
     In a petition Tuesday to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the subreddit said Chris Vizzini has improperly registered “gaymer” as a mark for his website gaymer.org.
     Represented pro bono by Perkins Coie and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the subreddit says “gaymer” is generic and belongs in the public domain.
     A play on the term gamer, given primarily to video games enthusiasts, Gaymers share the same passion but also identify “with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community,” according to the petition.
     Public use of “gaymer” dates to “at least the early 1990s,” when a “growing group of individuals within the gaming community began to use it to identify themselves,” the petition states.
     Vizzini registered “gaymer” in March 2008, claiming to have used the term for computer-related services beginning in 2005. He sent Reddit a cease-and-desist letter in August 2012.
     “For petitioner’s members, many of whom have been politically and/or socially marginalized, the term gaymer represents a community based on a common purpose and activity,” the six-page petition states. “They are proud to be members of that community, and were surprised that registrant claimed ownership of the common term that describes it.”
     EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said in a statement that the “registration should never have been granted.”
     “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,” she added.
     EFF attorney Julie Samuels echoed the sentiment.
     “Trademarks have one primary purpose: to protect consumers from confusion about the source of goods or services,” Samuels said in a statement. “This registration isn’t being used to protect consumers – it’s being used to threaten free speech.”
     In a Reddit post on the trademark issue, a moderator emphasized that the subreddit group is fighting back.
     “The actions we have taken are not because we don’t believe in intellectual property protection,” the moderator 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.”
     “Mr. Vizzini, you keep using the word ‘gaymer,'” he added. “I do not think it means what you think it means. To the rest of us, it means community. It means pride in our differentness and our small community. It means inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness. It means banding together and using a common hobby – games – to unite a sub-set of our community that otherwise has nothing substantive in common. It bridges the gap in the gay community of an arbitrary characteristic with an activity that allows commonality, of purpose and activity. In short, it is the antithesis of a claim of ownership and threats to exclude or demands to capitulate.”
     He later added: “Bullying is bad enough when it’s from someone outside the community, but it is so much worse when it comes from within.”
     Around the time of Vizzini’s cease-and-desist letter, a group of gaymers launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund “the first gaming and tech convention with a focus on LGBT geek culture.”
     The GaymerCon pitch stated: “The stereotypes about gamers are many, but the core is the perception that gamers are usually straight white guys in dark rooms furiously mashing at a controller. That’s not the reality. Gamers come in all sizes, genders, races, and sexual identities.”
     Backers have since pledged $91,300 toward the convention, which is slated for August in San Francisco as GamerX.

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