Since this post from 2019 in which I attached many files related to Anthony Bean’s trademark infringement and attempts at usurping the brand by filing for a federal trademark registration in response to a cease and desist letter from me, many more things have happened.
If this is your first time learning about this, here’s a very, very quick recap: We, Geek Therapy, have existed since 2011. In 2019, a psychologist named Anthony Bean, out of nowhere, started using the term “Geek Therapy” publicly to sell books and workshops and later began operating a brand with our mark in the title. Over a year later, we’re still in a legal proceeding before the US Patent and Trademark Office, or PTO, over the ownership rights and federal registration of our trademark. No decisions or deals have been made, and our official position is that Bean continues to commit copyright and trademark infringement through his use of our mark “Geek Therapy” and related terms.
I have not shared many details publicly because I’ve been addressing the situation in court and did not want the situation to affect Geek Therapy’s ongoing work and mission, but Bean’s actions negatively affect our community in many ways.
For example, on episode 282 of GT Radio I explain how I am fighting Bean’s attempts at registering a trademark for “Geek Therapist” as a title that can only be used by someone who completes his training. He is attempting to take the term that so many of use to represent our professional identity and turn it exclusively into a credential that represents the completion of what he’s selling. He has told people that they can’t refer to themselves with even similar titles without his training or permission. Bean never considered how any of us would feel about this. How could he? He never bothered to ask.
His actions also create division in our field of helping professionals doing therapeutic and applied Geek and gaming work. Our community is built on collaboration. Everything from inviting each other onto panels so we can present together at big events, promoting each other’s work to reporters, working on books together, you know, things that can make a big impact on your career and allow for new opportunities and networking.
For example, Janina Scarlet got us into an article in The Atlantic in 2019. If you think you’ll never be in a position like that, trust me that Janina and I had no idea we’d be quoted in The Atlantic in 2019 when we met at Comic-Con six years earlier. The only reason that reporters cared or even knew about us is in large part because we’ve helped each other out. And I have tons of examples like that.
A few weeks ago, when a reporter reached out to me for a story, I returned the favor again and told them to talk to Janina. You know what else happened? I told them that Bean was infringing on our trademark and that there was a case before the PTO.
The reporter said she saw that there was another group, did some digging, and realized we were the “real” ones. This is what I mean! These are real-world consequences that affect the reputations and livelihoods of real people.
I won’t even go into how this affects his business and us as a nonprofit, but just think about how it could potentially affect your business, career, or reputation. I have no idea how many opportunities people are being excluded from because of their affiliation to one of us.
He is also trying to erase all of our contributions by attempting to discredit me. So I’ve had my credentials and experience questioned. Bean’s lawyers have asked for confirmation that I was ever licensed and actually provided therapy or that I ever said that I practiced something called “Geek Therapy” despite multiple interactions over the years and him even asking me to co-edit a book with him.
Also, apparently, another tactic is that if I weren’t an American citizen, I might not have any claims to a trademark. So why not explore that, right? So even my citizenship has been questioned. Among pages and pages of requests for documents about what Geek Therapy and I have been up to since 2011, Bean and his lawyers asked for a copy of my passport. In writing.
You can hear me talk more about all of that on episode 281 of GT Radio.
You can view and read all of the court documents in the trademark case before the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) by visiting this link or searching for opposition # 91249379 at https://tmsearch.uspto.gov. That includes thousands of pages of evidence from the discovery phase, testimonies, subpoenas, and more. You can even read the transcript of my deposition in which Bean’s lawyer asked me questions for 90 minutes while another lawyer representing him, and Bean himself, stared at me.
The biggest surprise so far came a few months ago when Bean’s lawyers told our lawyer that Bean doesn’t care if he loses the trademark litigation and the PTO grants us the registration and that he’s just gonna keep using it anyway, because it would be a “difference of opinion” for them.
Until that point, I assumed we were playing by a particular set of rules: If Bean somehow wins, we rebrand, but if we win, Bean rebrands. I guess I was wrong.
Our lawyer David Adler explained that the PTO registers trademarks, but doesn’t enforce them. So even if the PTO agrees with us and not Bean, they won’t do anything if Bean continues to infringe on our trademark. To make him stop, we have to take other legal actions.
That is why today we filed a lawsuit against Anthony Bean in federal court on counts of trademark infringement (knowingly using similar and identical terms), unfair competition (knowingly targeting the same audience), and conspiracy (lying to the PTO and attempting to prevent us from registering a mark he knew about for years). You can read the entire document here.
That’s the latest. I don’t want this case to distract from the work Geek Therapy is doing, but I’m happy to answer questions about. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please listen to episode 282 of GT Radio because it covers all of the ways I believe the community is being harmed by Bean’s actions.