Gygax Magazine? [UPDATE 3 - Electric Boogaloo]

(un)reason

Legend
'Read Dragon magazine four hundred times thread' is round about the most repeatedly read content on EN. So I'm not getting the Fugees - more Pink Floyd :p

Hey! I'm up to 2002 now, and the last fugees album was in 1996. :p Maybe Rush would be a better analogy, since they released their first album in 1974, and are still going today. :cool:
 

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level1gamer

First Post
Of course Luke and Ernie are entitled to use their own surname.

From what I understand about trademarks (admittedly, I'm no expert), this is not necessarily true. There could be a case if it can be shown that consumer's would be confused. For instance, if my last name is McDonald, I can't open restaurant called McDonald's. I'd probably even have a hard time publishing a cookbook called "McDonald's Recipes" because it can be confused. Trademark law is weird.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
From what I understand about trademarks (admittedly, I'm no expert), this is not necessarily true. There could be a case if it can be shown that consumer's would be confused. For instance, if my last name is McDonald, I can't open restaurant called McDonald's. I'd probably even have a hard time publishing a cookbook called "McDonald's Recipes" because it can be confused. Trademark law is weird.

This is my understanding, too. Perhaps an IP lawyer could weigh in, but my low-level knowledge of IP law suggests to me that combining "Gygax" and "TSR" without any context might ["might?" clearly it did, as this very thread shows!] create customer confusion.

But I'm not a lawyer. I know it confused me, and I'm fairly knowledgeable about the RPG industry. I thought it was a scam. I saw "Gygax Magazine from TSR" (and let's think about that - that, without context, makes no sense!), not "Gary Gygax's kids and some ex-TSR employees have got together to make a new magazine, but his widow has nothing to do with it".. I don't know what someone whose job isn't to follow these things who just sees this on a shop shelf would think.

That's why - despite some vocal criticism from the morally superior protectors of the innocent - I feel this thread has value. Without it, the customer would remain uninformed and possibly have the *wrong* impression. Transparency is a marvellous result which enables things to progress on their own merits.

I think there's a lesson to be learned here: if you don't want people to question you, don't be cryptic. That was one hella-cryptic marketing strategy - and let's be clear here: a website which says nothing but "GYGAX MAGAZINE FROM TSR: GIMME YOUR EMAIL ADDY" is a helluva risky tactic, but it's a chosen, deliberate one designed to attract attention - and such a tactic will, should, and did cause people to question it.

Those advocating "do not question, blindly follow along, submit your email address as ordered by the invisible anonymous person using a company name last used in 1997" are entitled to their opinion; I do not share it. I checked it out first, like a responsible net citizen, and kept people apprised of my progress lest it turn out to be dodgy. If the folks in question hadn't wanted this very thing to happen, they wouldn't have chosen a tactic which guaranteed it.

In the end, I guess it worked - is there any RPG-gamer on the web who isn't aware of this now? Luke, Ernie, etc. are going to do just fine with this.
 
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darjr

I crit!
I wonder if a better name would be 'The Gygaxian' or just 'Gygaxian'

Though, for example, couldn't anyone put out a magazine about the life and times of Gary Gygax and call it Gygax Magazine?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I wonder if a better name would be 'The Gygaxian' or just 'Gygaxian'

Though, for example, couldn't anyone put out a magazine about the life and times of Gary Gygax and call it Gygax Magazine?

I dunno. Gail Gygax says "Gary Gygax" is a trademark. So's "Morrus", if I decide it is. Whether it's registered or not is just protection. I don't know whether "Gary Gygax" is registered, but nobody's actually used it so that's kinda moot.

But they have used "TSR" (indeed, not "TSR Games", their new company, but "TSR") right next to "Gygax" which did create an impression with me. Well, with me it set off alarm bells, because I'm knowledgeable, and I wanted to know what was going on (and I was delighted to find it was all above board) but with some guy wandering into a game store and seeing it on a shelf? Who knows. That's why we have lawyers, I guess.

I'm very pleased to hear that the Gygax family (if not the Gygax Estate) is involved. But damn. They did the online equivalent of going into a bank dressed in a striped shirt and a mask and a bag labelled "swag" and then just meekly asking to open an account. That website looked as suspicious as it's possible to make a website. Why the heck didn't they just put a note at the bottom saying "Luke and Ernie Gygax have bought the TSR trademark"?

Well, the alternative is that it was very clever!
 
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Well, I'm neither a lawyer nor an American, so I know you'll all be waiting with bated breath to know what I think about a theoretical matter of US law...

I suspect that before you could show that customers might be confused, you'd have to show that there's some trading entity that TSR's Gygax magazine might be confused with. As far as I know, nobody has been publishing material using the TSR name or the Gygax name for quite some years.
 

Thulcondar

First Post
I dunno. Gail Gygax says "Gary Gygax" is a trademark. So's "Morrus", if I decide it is. Whether it's registered or not is just protection. I don't know whether "Gary Gygax" is registered, but nobody's actually used it so that's kinda moot.

According to the TESS search on the USPTO website, "Gary Gygax" is not a registered trademark, nor is "Gygax". That doesn't mean it can't be used as a trademark, just that it's not officially registered with the USPTO. However, in order to do that, it must be used in commerce, and as far as I know, Gail hasn't actually sold anything under the Gary Gygax moniker. So that would be tough to make stick in court. (Note that I am not a lawyer, but I've dealt with these sorts of issues in regards to my own IP.)

"TSR", on the other hand, is a registered trademark (filed on May 25, 2011) belonging to something called Hexagonist Publishing. The website belonging to Hexagonist Publishing (hexagonist.com) is in turn registered to... Jayson Elliot.

So that part makes perfect sense and squares with what we've been told.

Joe
 
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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
as far as I know, Gail hasn't actually sold anything under the Gary Gygax moniker

"Cheers, Gary!" in 2011.

I suspect that before you could show that customers might be confused, you'd have to show that there's some trading entity that TSR's Gygax magazine might be confused with. As far as I know, nobody has been publishing material using the TSR name or the Gygax name for quite some years.

See above.
 



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