Subreddit Drama

Reddit: Anyone can start a subreddit, and back in 2012 Jaime Rogozinski started r/WallStreetBets. Over the years, the site attracted millions of subscribers talking about aggressive trading strategies; providing middle-school humor; and pumping-up various stocks (e.g., GameStop).

In 2020, Reddit removed Rogozinski from his role controlling the subreddit as moderator, concluding that he was “attempting to monetize a community.” Rogozinski had published a book titled WallStreetBets and also filed trademark registration application for the mark WALLSTREETBETS, with him as the owner. Of course, lots of folks are monetizing their subreddits, but I have not heard of others registering a TM on the subreddit name.  Immediately after removing Rogozinski from control, Reddit filed competing registration applications for the same mark and continues to control the subreddit. Opposition proceedings are now pending before the TTAB.

Reddit claims control and ownership because the subreddit is on its site and under its control; Rogozinsky argues that he did all the work building the brand for himself – not for Reddit. The issues in this case are interesting because they are similar to those being debated with regard to AI ownership and attribution. Here, the difference is that we have a corporate owner rather than an AI. And, although both the company and Rogozinsky had input in the creation — what really made this valuable is the input and connection to millions of users. Similarly, AI works well only if it has good input data — typically obtained by scooping up and examined up so many copyrighted works and user data.

In addition to the opposition proceedings, Rogozinski has now sued Reddit in Federal Court, asserting infringement of his unregistered WallStreetBets mark; infringement of his registered mark WSB; as well as violations of contract, rights of publicity, and duty of good faith and fair dealing. James R. Lawrence, III is representing the plaintiff.

Should be interesting.

24 thoughts on “Subreddit Drama

  1. 4

    This should serve as yet another cautionary tale to those who have built — and who are considering building — a / their community / company on a platform owned and controlled by another (e.g. Facebook, Twitter; and now even Reddit).

    You are creating a valuable asset resting on a rug owned by another.

    A rug which can be pulled out from under you at any time.

    1. 4.1

      Absolutely true. But if that same person had tried to build their community/company or whatever on the sand, rather than on the rug provided by Reddit/Facebook/Twitter, they wouldn’t have been able to benefit from the huge network effect already created for them, and would likely have had a much different outcome. So when they start viewing themselves at that iconic heroic individual who has single-handedly carved a hugely valuable asset out of the wilderness and declare that they now own that little spot of the rug on which they built, they shouldn’t be surprised when the rug owner pushes back.
      Sorry about the mixed metaphors.

      1. 4.1.1


        Can one posit that the use of an AI (as it were) through the ‘tool’ of another (here perhaps the ChatGPT phenom) provides a tie that you would disclaim below?

      2. 4.1.2

        Good point LB. So a tough decision then. Have full control and ownership on your own platform (e.g. a great .com) . . . or share control and ownership on another’s platform and hope they never pull the rug out from under you.

        Tough choice.

        But even if you do build on another’s platform, you should register your “handle” in the .com as a fallback position so you can move your operation to your own platform if the need arises.

        Something which, if whois correct, Jaime didn’t do.

    1. 3.1

      One would assume, that somewhere in the boilerplate, all you stuff belongs to Redit. But this is an interesting trademark question as to whether a mark made famous, could have legal life outside of the confines – see libs of tic tock. See also r/patentlyo – of course our Denis is too smart for that. But does he have the reach that r/patentlyo would have had?

    1. 2.1

      It doesn’t?
      Section 230 is pretty short – I don’t see how any of it can be construed to have anything to do with ownership of trademarks, or websites, or anything else.

  2. 1

    Trademarks arise under a different Constitutional area and just do not have the same Lockean nature as does Patents and Copyrights.

    The comparison then to AI is flawed from the onset.

      1. 1.1.2

        Oh for pity’s sake. Are we rehearsing that tedious “Lokean foundations of U.S. patent law” theme again? Give it up already.

        1) The constitution nowhere mentions Locke.
        2) There is not a single federal case that grounds U.S. patent law in Lockean theory.
        3) Locke never wrote anything one way or another about patents.
        4) U.S. patent law is basically the same (essentially the same requirements, essentially the same rights, essentially the same exclusions, essentially the same term, etc.) as every one of our peer nations’ patent systems—including those where Locke was never as influential.

        The idea that Locke needs to be consulted or considered when analyzing U.S. patent law issues is just a weird hobbyhorse of a certain strain of faux intellectuals. No one should waste their time with it.



          well I’ve never heard of it so it must not be real

          Brays out the pompous arse that Greg is.


          Here’s a hint for Greg (not that he would bother): Go to Stanford v. Roche as a starting point and look to the inchoate right mentioned there and the necessity of where that originates and vests.

          Locke’s influence is direct upon this point.

          A much better — and direct — link that Greg should have run:

          link to


            Correct Anon. Indeed, Locke’s views concerning the rights of the individual, can be said to animate the entire basis of the patent and copyright clause – some would argue – a core feature of the ‘American experiment.’


              Absolutely – someone ( 😉 ) once penned something about Life, Liberty, and Property (you know things that the Far Liberal Left detest — for the individual)…


                Yeah, I remember that line. That’s the one that got altered when introduced into our founding documents, to dump the word “property.” Weird, that, since Locke’s ideas of personal property animated everything.

                1. Sure Property as changed — but your view wants to throw out everything.

                  More than a wee bit extreme, eh?


          Greg, I assume you went to law school and studied some of this, but just out of curiosity, and no disrespect but you were west coast law? At GWU, at least back in the day, Locke was very much a part of Con Law and more specifically the novel and unusual nature of the IP clause in advanced study. The inchoate right. The American experiment – individualism. Were you taught otherwise, or is this view you hold something you came up with otherwise?

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