Founder of WallStreetBets on Reddit Sues Reddit
Founder of WallStreetBets (WSB) Jaime Rogozinski filed a lawsuit against Reddit last week, claiming the platform wrongfully removed him as a moderator in 2020 and infringed on his right to trademark the community’s name.
Founded in 2012, WSB fostered a reputation on Reddit as the go-to place for people to witness bold stock trades. Community members shared images of significant trading losses and gains with a mutually stoic sense of pride. Financial literacy wasn’t at the forefront of WSB’s day-to-day content, but rather a “YOLO” or “you only live once” mentality to trading stocks.
The subreddit ballooned in popularity amid COVID lockdowns as people spent more time at home, and—buoyed financially by pandemic relief programs—delved into online stock trading, often using platforms with zero commission fees like Robinhood. It was the epicenter of the so-called meme stock frenzy, which saw GameStop and AMC soar amid a historic short squeeze.
The subreddit hasn’t always been kind to posts about cryptocurrencies, limiting crypto discussions to a single thread, but its managers launched a cyrpto-specific subreddit in the fall of 2021. Reddit has also catered to the WSB community by releasing custom avatars, such as one with “diamond hands,” a tie emblazoned with a rocket, and sporting the logo’s yellow hair.
But long before droves of WSB onlookers piled into meme stocks and established figures like Keith Gill as icons in a battle to pin Wall Street on the losing side of trades, Rogozinski was removed as a moderator of the community by Reddit. The move constituted a “breach of contract [that] was intentional and willful,” according to Rogozinski’s filed complaint.
Reddit’s justification for ousting Rogozinski as a moderator centered on claims that the founder violated company policy by “attempting to monetize a community.” Rogozinski had established an esports trading competition and promoted a book on WSB titled “WallStreetBets: How Boomers Made the World’s Biggest Casino for Millennials.”
“Reddit’s justification was a pretext—people use Reddit to market and sell everything from investment advice to bodily fluids,” Rogozinski’s complaint states. “On Reddit, just about everyone, including aspiring pornographers and scam artists, can find a place, everyone that is except Mr. Rogozinski.”
Of the seven other claims for which the founder seeks damages—which total at least $1 million, according to Reuters—Rogozinski also claimed Reddit infringed on a federally registered trademark.
In late March 2020, Rogozinski’s complaint says he filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to secure the use of “WallStreetBets” for commercial use. Reddit would go on to later file four trademark applications of its own to register “WallStreetBets.”
The lawsuit hopes to establish that Rogozinski is the owner of the WSB trademark, and seeks an order reinstating him to his former role as subreddit moderator. Additionally, Rogozinski seeks a court order that bars Reddit from “any and all use” of the trademark “unless and until” the company reinstates him “as the senior-most moderator of the r/WallStreetBets subreddit.”
Reddit pushed back against the claims Rogozinski makes in his lawsuit. “This is a completely frivolous lawsuit with no basis in reality,” a Reddit spokesperson told Decrypt via email. “This lawsuit is another transparent attempt to enrich himself.”
The company noted that Rogozinski was removed from his role well before GameStop and AMC came to dominate the subreddit’s chatter—and each of the communities fond of GameStop and AMC branched off to other subreddits like r/amcstock or r/superstonk.
“It’s telling that he is filing this suit three years after he was banned by r/WallStreetBets and long after the community rose in mainstream popularity without his involvement,” the Reddit spokesperson said. “We’ll respond directly in court and continue to protect the best interests of the communities and moderators on our platform.”