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Jaime Rogozinski created Reddit's popular WallStreetBets. Now he's suing over "nightmare" ban.

The founder of the popular Reddit forum WallStreetBets is suing the social media company, alleging he was unfairly banned as moderator of the group and blocked in his efforts to gain a trademark.

Jaime Rogozinski is asking that a court grant him ownership of the WallStreetBets trademark, according to a lawsuit filed February 15 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. He also is asking that Reddit be barred from using the WallStreetBets brand unless he is reinstated to the forum.

Rogozinski's saga, as portrayed by the the lawsuit, paints the picture of a scrappy individual investor who sought to help others tap Wall Street advice following the Great Recession, only to be jilted by a large tech company. After WallStreetBets grew into a forum with more than 1 million subscribers, Rogozinski learned his account was suspended in April 2020 — shortly after he had filed an application to register WallStreetBets as a trademark, the lawsuit claims.

Reddit informed Rogozinski that his account was suspended for violating company policy by "attempting to monetize a community," the lawsuit noted. The lawsuit alleges that "people use Reddit to market and sell everything from investment advice to bodily fluids."

"Rogzinski's true offense was trying to control the brand he created in the first place, a famous brand that helped Reddit ride to a $10 billion valuation," the suit claims. It also added that "Reddit's dreams ... turned out to be Mr. Rogozinski's nightmare as the company insists, 'if you build it, we will take it from you'."

Key Speakers At The CoinDesk 2022 Consensus Festival
Jaime Rogozinski, founder of Reddit forum WallStreetBets, speaks during the CoinDesk 2022 Consensus Festival in Austin, Texas, on June 11, 2022. Bloomberg

In a statement to CBS MoneyWatch, Reddit described the lawsuit as "completely frivolous."

"Jaime was removed as a moderator of r/WallStreetBets by Reddit and banned by the community moderators for attempting to enrich himself," the company said. 

The company added, "This lawsuit is another transparent attempt to enrich himself. 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."

Although Reddit removed Rogzinski as a moderator, the company allowed him to continue using the social media platform, a spokesperson added.

Trademark fight

In March 2020, Rogozinski filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register WallStreetBets for use with online and print publications about trading and finance, for clothing items, and to provide an online forum for financial and trading information, according to his suit. 

In May of that year, however, Reddit filed the first of four trademark applications to the U.S. Patent office to register WallStreetBets as a trademark. Reddit has also started legal action to block Rogozinski from asserting ownership of WallStreetBets, the suit said.

"This case is about putting a stop to Reddit's systematic theft holding the company accountable for its misconduct," the lawsuit alleges.

WallStreetBets emerged as a meeting place for small investors during the pandemic — after Rogozinski had been banned from the site — propelling the stocks of companies like AMC Entertainment, GameStop and others into the stratosphere for a time. But the subreddit's brand is one of the better known sections of Reddit, which could prove to be a valuable asset for whomever controls the trademark. 

Among his lawsuit's goals — that the court will declare that "he, and not Reddit, is the owner of the WallStreetBets trademark." He also wants the court to order Reddit to stop using the WallStreetBets name "unless and until the company reinstates Mr. Rogozinski as the senior-most moderator of the r/WallStreetBets subreddit."

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