The creator of WallStreetBets, the online community that helped send the GameStop stock soaring in 2021, is suing Reddit. In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, Jaime Rogozinski claims Reddit wrongfully banned him from moderating the subreddit and violated his rights to a trademark, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Rogozinski first created r/WallStreetBets in 2012 with the intent of establishing a community for everyday investors who may not know the ins and outs of stock trading. It exploded in popularity around 2020, encouraging traders to buy various “meme” stocks like GameStop and AMC and chastising those with “paper hands” for selling too early.
As the subreddit started to add more members, Rogozinski claims Reddit “aggressively opposed” his application to file a trademark for the WallStreetBets name and instead filed for one itself.
“‘If you build it, they will come,’” entrepreneurs tell themselves, drawing inspiration from the protagonist-farmer’s walk through an Iowa cornfield in the 1989 film Field of Dreams,” the lawsuit reads. “Reddit’s dreams, however, turned out to be Mr. Rogozinski’s nightmare as the company insists, ‘if you build it, we will take it from you.’”
In 2020, Reddit terminated Rogozinski’s role as moderator for allegedly “attempting to monetize a community” after he published his WallStreetBets book and established an esports trading competition. Other r/WallStreetBets moderators later ousted him from the community altogether over claims that he broke the subreddit’s rules about self-promotion.
“This is a completely frivolous lawsuit with no basis in reality,” a Reddit spokesperson who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the situation says in a statement to The Verge. “Jaime was removed as a moderator of r/WallStreetBets by Reddit and banned by the community moderators for attempting to enrich himself. This lawsuit is another transparent attempt to enrich himself.”
Rogozinski’s suing for damages of at least $1 million, according to Reuters, and asks that Reddit stop using the WallStreetBets name “unless and until” the company reinstates him as the “senior-most moderator” of the WallStreetBets community. Reddit says it plans on responding “directly in court” and will continue to “protect the best interests of the communities and moderators” on the platform.