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June 25
2013

Gaymer.org Officially Closed

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reddit_gaymer
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In 2008 Chris Vizzini, owner of Gaymer.org, controversially filed a trademark on the term ‘gaymer’, specifically the use of the term in regard to online entities. Many, including those here on GayGamer, disagreed with this move. But years passed and nothing ever seemed to come of the trademark’s existence. Cut to 2012 and the users of subreddit /r/gaymers received a cease and desist from Vizzini, sparking a digital battle over the word ‘gaymer’ and its uses. While Vizzini  brandished his ownership of the trademark the majority of gay gamers, including some users of gaymer.org, came out in support of /r/gaymers and more specifically the freedom of the word altogether. Many cited uses of the term that existed earlier than the filed trademark, while others rallied around the term ‘gaymer’ as an identity that cannot be owned. The “I am a Gaymer” campaign was born.

In early 2013 the battle was taken to court with /r/gaymers being represented pro bono by Perkins Cole and the EFF.

Today we find out that Gaymer.org is officially closed. In an official statement from Vizzini, as found on Gaymer.org’s front page (emphasis mine):

“The world is a very different place than it was 10 years ago when I started the site. This is also true for the Internet. There wasn’t a clear beacon for gay gamers. We had no voice. If there had been, there would have been no need for me to start a site.

Back in 2003, the word gaymer was an insult so I thought that making it into a positive by naming the site gaymer.org was a cool idea.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m involved in some legal muck with the members of the subreddit /r/gaymers who do not agree with my having the word Gaymer trademarked which I’ve had since 2008. My trademark, in a nutshell, is use of the word gaymer for an online community that is about video games.

……

I’m letting go. I’d just be outspent if I pushed the case forward. Closing the site might seem like a case of sour grapes but it’s really not.

I had a couple of goals in mind when I began the site. One was to make change – make change for the word gaymer and gay gamers themselves. I wanted to give them someplace safe to come when they were called names. I wanted them to feel not so alone in the gaming world and feel unconditionally accepted. Another goal was to help people meet each other. They did. They became friends, boyfriends and, in one case, two people got married. I’m extremely proud of that.

Here it is 10 years later. The word gaymer has changed so much that people are willing to fight for it. I couldn’t ask for more if I’m going to lose the trademark. It wasn’t for nothing.

I come from the school of thought that, if create something and you put in the hours, the work, the money and your heart in it, that it belongs to you. I thought that’s part of what being an American was about. Especially if you played by the book and took all the right legal channels. What I found out in the end that it doesn’t matter what you do, if a big law firm powerful enough comes along and wants to take it, they will and there’s not much you can do about it.

The reason I’m closing the site is because the goals were accomplished but also because I feel disconnected from gay gamers having seen their ugly side though all of this. I know it’s not all gay gamers from the members of my site but its was enough of them saying hurtful things so loudly that it has put me off. What was once a source of passion has now become a source of pain and it’s time to walk away and say goodbye.

I hope the passion comes back one day because if it does, the site will come back up.

To the members, I wanted to say thank you for all the fun. You will be missed more than you know. :(

Chris

aka Gaymer

If any of you can help out with the lawyer bill, that would be awesome and really appreciated. Just click the donate button.”

You can visit Gaymer.org for the full statement, in which Vizzini recaps in detail the entire story from his perspective. He touches on not only the battle between himself and /r/gaymers, but on the birth of GaymerX/GaymerConnect, and even mentions li’l ol’ GayGamer.net.

It’s surprising to see Vizzini close down his site altogether, given that loss of the trademark would in no way affect his ability to own and operate it.

While specifics of the legal battle and its outcome have yet to emerge it would seem that, for now, the fight over the term ‘gaymer’ has come to an end.

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About Sal Mattos

(Managing Editor and Writer) Sal lives in the beautiful city of San Francisco where he splits his time between playing games, watching copious amounts of television, and occasionally going outside. He has written for GayGamer and Gamezone. He studied creative writing and theatre at SFSU, and when not gaming can most likely be found on stage somewhere. You can keep up with him on twitter @salmattos

30 Responses

  1. avatar Dandy Kong says:

    Dear Chris Vizzini,

    Stop acting like a victim and stop falsifying history. The term ‘gaymer’ was already used -in a positive way- by gamers.experimentations.org before gaymer.org started. Trademarking the word gaymer was never a good idea.

  2. avatar Lydecker says:

    I feel upon reading this that Chris doesn’t understand fully each people’s view, and seems to be slightly in denial about what he himself has done, and is even doing now. I’m glad for the community of Gaymer.org and my first gay friends I made were through that, since GayGamer.net forums I found a bit large and not the same. I just don’t like what Vizzini has been doing, having now seen his ugly side.

  3. avatar Gaymes says:

    I discovered gaymer.org and gaygamer.net at around the same time in my life. gaymer.org was for me, thin on content, so I spent more time on gaygamer.net (that and fruitbrute). I’m sad that it had to come to a legal decision.
    –Gaymes (pronounced like “gif”)

  4. avatar Brook says:

    “/r/gaymers who do not agree with my having the word Gaymer trademarked”
    True, but the sticking point was when the bully tried to have the subredddit closed. Then he got GaymerCon to change it’s name. The bully might have been saying that he was trying to promote Gamers, but he was using legal means to attack anyone who used the term online except himself. The EFF was right to see it as a freedom of speech issue.

    • avatar GaymerConnect says:

      In the element of fairness and information, Gam3rCon caused us to change our name and we decided not to fight that in the hopes of fighting against the gaymer trademark issue instead. Legal issues ahoy!

  5. avatar Adrian says:

    I don’t see or hear of this kind of drama about Gay.com, which I find counterintuitive.

    • avatar Thorin says:

      Gay.com has “gay.com” trademarked, not simply the term “gay” as it pertains to online entities.

      If Vizzini had trademarked “gaymer.org” instead of “gaymer” this probably wouldn’t have happened at all.

      • avatar Adrian says:

        You know, he should’ve done that instead. While I could never understand why trademarking “gaymer” had many a gay gamer’s panty in a twist, since it was all about organizations profiting off sales of t-shirts and what not, and nothing ado about the quality of my gaming or fabulousness of my gayness, he should have just saved himself the hassle of a turf war, or the vigilance of protecting his own turf.

        • avatar NyDan83 says:

          Trademarking the word “Gaymer” is financially sound. Unfortunately, trademarking the word “gaymer” is not legally sound because he fails to fulfill the requirements of a valid trademark.

          He did file for the trademark by the books, but his attorney did not do due diligence to his case. If the attorney did proper research, the attorney would have found that the trademark would have been invalid from the start. The USPTO office doesn’t have enough attorneys to fully investigate every trademark before issuing it. It’s why there the USPTO allows for others to contest the trademark at any point in time.

          This will sound offensive regardless of how I say it so whatever… Chris Vizzini is bowing out now because he’s got no legal defense against the petition of cancellation. The word “GAYMER” was never his to trademark in the first place. This sounds like a cry of “Look at me! I’m doing the right thing and I shouldn’t be anyone’s enemy,” when in reality, he was motivated by profit and in the end when he faced a legal issue that could have been prevented by his own attorney years before with simple due diligence, he’s now “gracefully” bowing out because he knows he’s going to lose.

          The powerful law firm isn’t what’s taking away the trademark, it’s the fact that the trademark should never have been issued. Vizzini obtained the trademark through shoddy legal work by his own attorney and the inability for the USPTO to thoroughly investigate all trademark applications because they are understaffed.

          I have very little sympathy for Vizzini at this point. The only thing I have sympathy for him is the hateful words that have come from people to him. People have taken a legal battle to a personal battle with him and it shouldn’t be. Some people said he should get cancer or HIV or get seriously injured, etc… No one deserves that kind of harassment. However, that’s the only sympathy he gets from me.

  6. avatar Eric says:

    Just to clarify, GaymerCon changed its name due to a different trademark issue, a rival convention called Gam3rcon in San Diego.

  7. avatar Eric says:

    (Well, not a rival as far as gay gamers goes, just a similar name.)

  8. avatar jt says:

    I don’t know the tired history of gaymer.org but he was awarded the trademark for “gaymer” and his “bullying” was him imposing his rights to the mark. Trademarks take 3 to 9 months to process and validate, and there’s also a 30 day window where the public can oppose the mark for any reason. Since he was awarded the trademark, that means no one opposed his trademark during the 30 day window, therefore securing his right to the mark and his right to enforce a cease and desist to anyone who tries to use it. He was trying to build a business and build a brand. He did everything by the book. Unfortunately for him, the mark grew to label a minority group, and he could not financially support the $25,000 and up legal costs to fight to keep the mark.

    In this scenario, whichever side you take, you’re going to view the opposition as a bully and may even bully back, but that does not make it okay to bully, especially when it’s a community vs an individual within that community. Everything that transpired happens regularly in the business world. This is nothing new or out of left-field for the Trademark Office. There’s a similar ongoing case with the mark “Urban Homesteading” in which the public is using the mark to identify a community while an individual owns the trademark on it and has been enforcing his rights. This is “business” and there’s no need for personal attacks from either side.

    • avatar Taiko says:

      Not quite. This story reads a bit misleadingly, implying that in 2008 it was known what he was doing. I don’t really think that was the case at all. It wasn’t until last year when he started throwing about his “legal weight” that it seemed to even come to light that he -had- a mark.

      The term gaymer didn’t “grow to label a minority group”. It always -was- a label for that group, and he tried to lay claim to it. It’s akin to someone trying to trademark the word “gamer” or “consumer”.

      He wasn’t building a business. He wasn’t building a brand. He had a message board, a delusional belief that he created the word gaymer and the entirety of the gaymer community, and an unfortunate misunderstanding of trademarks and their purpose.

    • avatar NyDan83 says:

      The problem some people here have is that they presume “by the books” means he had a valid trademark. Having a valid trademark and doing things by the books are not the same thing.

      He did file properly and he did nothing legally wrong. The problem is that his attorney failed him and the system that has a checks and balances system functioned correctly.

  9. People often get this confused which is easy because it’s misleading. My trademark says first use 2003. That means the first year I used it in commerce. Not the year I invented the word. I did not invent the word and never said as much. In 2003 the word was not often used. Google gaymer and limit the year to 2003.

    JT basically hit it. I was building a site and brand under the name gaymer. I checked and it wasn’t trademarked so I went for the trademark and it was granted. No one made a big deal about it until I exercised the right to defend the trademark.

    I understand both sides of the coin. I understand why people would want to keep the word not trademarked. But I also was trying to protect 10 years of my work.

    • avatar NyDan83 says:

      If you isolate it to 2003, then of course you will believe you have a valid trademark. Just because a word isn’t popularly used doesn’t mean you have a valid trademark.

      PLEASE fire your IP attorney because you have so much misinformation.

    • avatar Harold the Wonder Dog says:

      Your work consisted of registering a domain, hosting a message board, and updating the board software periodically. Your effort in building a brand amounted to creating a cafepress site selling merchandise with the gaymer.org logo on it. That’s it. Beyond that, history showed you were mostly hands off because you were busy with college, leaving all the work to your mods, and they all mostly quit.

      It’s obvz that you have this desire to be worshiped, and when you don’t get your superiority complex fulfilled, you’ve gone off on rants about how you hate the gay community, the gay club/bar scene, and boycotting pride, and most recently you use it to justify your own disrespectful, immature behavior, like shutting down your site without notice because your community members disagreed with your actions and didn’t support your losing battle by donating $5000 for your initial legal fees.

      In your closing statement, you try to attribute the existence of GaymerConnect to yourself. You are utterly delusional if you truly believe that, and it’s offensive that you would try to discount the actual hard work of those organizing the convention. Your only contribution, which you ultimately negated, was writing up a positive recommendation for the con, only to delete it within a week when you had a hissy fit when they voiced their support of r/gaymers’s fight against your trademark claim. I bet it’s additionally vexing for you not to get any credit, while former board member Matthew Michael Brown gets designated as “the first person to bring the word Gaymer to televised popular culture in such a big way” and who “as experience breaking into the gaming industry as a gaymer and someone who is passionately continuing the fight for equality today.”

      It’s sad that for all the hard work you BELIEVE you put in, all you’ve got to show for it now is a destroyed message board community and a reputation akin to a patent troll. Oh, and misogynistic comments as well, cuz the best way to discount the opinion of a woman with a doctorate and a law degree is to just refer to her as “some chick”, right?

      • avatar neshoba says:

        Christ save us! If anything good comes of gaymer.org going off line, it’s that Harold the Wonder Dog will have to find another spot to lay his boiler plate turds. I’m tempted to actually respond, but deterred by the facts that:
        1. You can barely digest four letter words or five word sentences.
        2. I’m trying to be sweet.

        We’re so quick to scrutinize Chris’s language and tone. Does everyone actually believe reddit and the EFF are any more eloquent? Have you seen rants and raves coming from Mister Ghost? Have you seen the gaping holes in the petition to cancel? Have you seen that same old tired Princess Bride joke in the EFF’s latest passive aggressive swipe? “Inconceivable.” Hurr hurr. Get it? His name is Vizzini.

        Yeah all parties are paradigms of professionalism. I’m actually happy Chris let the Atlanta girl slip out. If our leaders go down, they should go down swinging!

  10. avatar Caracticus says:

    Yeah, just because you can trademark something doesn’t mean it’s right to do so and doesn’t mean that you are victimized when your trademark is challenged.

    Human beings at the trademark office make mistakes sometimes. Granting the trademark for “gaymer” as it pertains to online activities was too broad and should have been rejected. Sorry it ended up costing an advocate for queers in gaming culture money, but perhaps it is a sobering event for other trademark opportunists.

  11. avatar likewhatevs says:

    It’s clear to see both sides made some serious mistakes along the way, but when we look back at the kind of hate generated from the community as whole, even if it was in defense, we should be ashamed of ourselves. We can talk about who was wrong and who was right until our bleeding little fingers fall off, but it’s all just piss in the wind at this point. But if either party, or supporter of either party can say they were the right side, then they have their noses so far in the air, they can’t smell their own shit at their feet.

    Live and let live. Hate is easy, love is harder.

  12. avatar neshoba says:

    I am thoroughly disappointed in the conduct of lil ol’ GayGamer.net. Chris defended the trademark against more competing services than just the /r/gaymers subreddit. “Toronto Gaymers” changed their name as a result of the defense.

    One thing that occurred and continues to occur is the apparent bias on the part of this site. Immediately following Mister Ghost’s blow up in regards to the cease and desist, GG.net ran to the subreddit, pledged allegiance and all but kowtowed before the reddit army of 16,000 “gaymers.”

    Funny how the first commenters on this post are former g/e members who jump on the chance to revel in gaymer.org’s blood.

    Regardless of how you feel about Chris personally, the site closing yesterday was a profoundly sad moment for the community. The moment wasn’t brought on solely by Chris. It was brought on by old feuds, a disconnected younger generation and general ignorance of the issues surrounding the trademark.

    • avatar SeanFitz says:

      But that’s the thing, isn’t it? GayGamer.net *does* have a bias, and they’re very open about it in their articles.

      At the end of everything, this falls back on Mr. Vizzini. He quietly trademarked the wrong thing(“gaymer” vs “gaymer.org) and then lashed out at the community he claims he was trying to foster. Yes, trademarks are tricky, but there are legal routes that a person can take to allow someone else to use their trademark without losing it. Instead, Vizzini resorted to legal bullying and got buried in the response.

      The most upsetting thing about the whole situation, at least from my own perspective, has been Vizzini’s dialogue throughout the whole ordeal. He paints himself the victim and flounders to justify himself. The communities that he tried to shut down never tried to return fire. They just wanted to coexist, which lines up with his “vision” of gay gamers.

      Some of it was from old grudges, I’m sure. His responses to certain things have been arrogant and baffling, which tells me there’s more going on than we can see. But still, this is a man who wanted to create a safe space for a minority group.

      At the end of it all, Vizzini has been a real jerk about all of this. He lashed out against the wrong website and his bullying left him unable to pursue legal action. /r/gaymers didn’t make him shut down his site- they just mounted enough defense that he couldn’t quietly squash them.

      If Chris Vizzini had been truly interested in creating a community of acceptance he would have explored changing his trademark or following legal means to allow positive groups to use it. Instead he treated the whole thing as an ego boost and when he lost he shut down his whole site.

      Vizzini stirred up a lot of anger and resentment within our community, and when his bullying finally failed he named himself victim and shut down his site. Gaymer.org being shut down is a huge loss to our community for a lot of reasons, but that’s not on anyone but Chris Vizzini.

    • avatar Ray says:

      Who cares how many people surrendered in the face of a ridiculous trademark battle? The point is that he tried to trademark a word – a word that was used independently of his business. In fact, I’ve been using that word for as long as I’ve been gay and a gamer, and I had no idea there was a gaymer.org until this business started. Like others have said, he should have trademarked the domain gaymer.org and none of this would have happened. He was stupid to try to trademark a word, and the fact that he was allowed to trademark it was a mistake. It was a mistake, unfortunately, that cost him a great deal of money and cost the gaymer community a great deal of grief.

    • avatar Lysander says:

      “Funny how the first commenters on this post are former g/e members who jump on the chance to revel in gaymer.org’s blood.”

      Yup.. that’s exactly what’s happening here. Whatever helps you sleep.

  13. avatar Dandy Kong says:

    Oh come on, Neshoba, you can’t be serious. I’m starting to think you have a grudge against G/E.

    Anyways, since the “revel in gaymer.org’s blood” is probably aimed at me (I don’t recognize any of the other names of the first posters as G/E members, but my memory may fail me here), I’ll try to explain my view one more time, after that I’ll just consider this a hopeless case.

    I think a trademark on the word gaymer (for whatever use) is a bad idea. It shouldn’t ‘belong’ to anyone but everybody should be free to use it as they like – and that includes setting up a web forum/site/whatever.

    I don’t agree with Chris’ view of the role of gaymer.org in gaymer communities on the web. Sure, it had its influence and I’m sure it meant a lot to a lot of people but the same goes for G/E that was there before gaymer.org (and used the word gaymer as well).

    If expressing these views equals ‘revelling in gaymer.org’s blood’ to you… well then I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry to see you’re so spiteful and have no idea where it’s coming from.

    • avatar neshoba says:

      RtDandy,

      Gaymer.org went down. That is a profound loss for us just as when g/e went down. Chris and the remaining members deserve a lot more than what they’re getting. And it wasn’t just Chris that lead to this. We all played a part in the site going down. Inevitably part of the life cycle? Perhaps. This is quite sad, though. And especially here, the guys of gaymer.org have this sort of snarky welcome. GayGamer plastering a triumphant robot and serving up snark. Gamers Ex jumping to the front of the line with, “I told you so.”

      I told you so, too in 2007. I took up the same argument. But, we didn’t stop the trademark back then. And now we’re 5-6 years out. The term proliferated. Because of Gamers Ex? Because of GayGamer? Because of Gaymer.org and the trademark? All of the above. We all had different philosophies, but we contributed in some way to the proliferation.

      You can either respect everyone’s contributions or not. But, it’s ridiculous to paint a community leader as a monster or Don Quixote. I’m all for critiques, but this is a volley of personal attacks.

  14. avatar Ann says:

    One word: INTERNET!

  15. avatar Lurking Grue says:

    Sad…just found out today that the site had closed down.

    Since 2006 I think I posted over 300 contributions on their forum which is a personal best for me. It was also nice to engage in conversations at a level far above the ‘l8me doodz, wut u pl8yng?’

    Despite my unsociable nature I will miss the community,
    thanks for all the good times Chris.

    I’ll keep an eye out in the future for Gaymer 2.0

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