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TSR Now it’s WotC’s Turn: WotC Moves Against TSR3

I guess after you provoke somebody enough, they’ll eventually bite back. The company has begun trademark cancellation procedures against the newest TSR.

TSR3 briefly filed for a court declaration on Dec 7th as to their ownership of the TSR trademarks — with an IndieGoGo campaign to fund it — and then voluntarily dismissed it a couple of days later on Dec 9th.

This filing is dated Dec 6th, the day before TSR3 launched its campaign.

In WotC’s response, they cite fraud as one of the causes of action, alleging that TSR3 misled the trademark office in its original application.

Mike Dunford, on Twitter, breaks down the action.


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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Yeah, an hour of work isn't how product reviews work in the industry, and you know that.

Hence my statement that they would either license the material (put you under a contract which would require them to pay lawyers) or pay the author. This was in reference to your statement that there would be no additional cost to WOTC, I presented two possible costs, either a legal fee or a direct payment. I didn't even get into the simple stuff like promotional costs.

The DM's Guild is a usage of the OGL which is a fair use license that excludes D&D specific content. There is zero quality control on the DM's Guild and while it is a great tool to democratize access to content, it is not built for high quality revision to existing materials Were you revising existing D&D Material for re-release they would enter into a separate license with you. You would be treated like a 3PP and not at all like an independent entity selling their homebrew content in the established homebrew marketplace.

It would absolutely be unreasonable to license out the logos that they use as trade dress, because it would create brand confusion over which entity is the creator and publisher of official content. That's the whole point of trademarks. It's a strange thing to suggest in the article about WOTC protecting their trademark that what they really should do is weaken it instead.
Today the cover to the new dragonlance book series was announced, and Margaret Weis make a post about how Wizards gave permission to use the old dragonlance logo.

So obviously it's not unheard of nor impossible, and sort of invalidates your argument here.
 

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dirtypool

Explorer
Today the cover to the new dragonlance book series was announced, and Margaret Weis make a post about how Wizards gave permission to use the old dragonlance logo.

So obviously it's not unheard of nor impossible, and sort of invalidates your argument here.
I don't know what portion of my prior post you think this would invalidate but let's look.

Wizards gave permission for the creator of Dragonlance to use the original Dragonlance logo on the latest Dragonlance book. There is no brand confusion in that, because Wizards isn't publishing their own competing Dragonlance book. If people associate that original Dragonlance logo with a new book and it drives sales to the new book, it's doing exactly what it was intended to do. Additionally it's already a licensed product for which WOTC has been paid and contracts have been signed.

That's a wholly different situation than A.) an outside company using the old TSR logo to publish their own content creating brand confusion or B.) Some rando rewriting an Old TSR supplement and asking WOTC to slap a logo on it and sell it - splitting the profit between them.
 

dirtypool

Explorer
Margaret Weis make a post about how Wizards gave permission to use the old dragonlance logo.
Where is the post by the way, because it doesn't appear to be on Margaret's website, nor her twitter. Worse though, the cover doesn't appear to actually contain the "original Dragonlance logo" so much as the new "Classic" Dragonlance logo.

I can clearly see the statement in the article, but haven't found the original post and the logo on the cover isn't the logo she referenced.
 

Fair. That's the thing - different TSRs exist in different people's memories. And where they all meet, that can get heated. The vitriol is a big part of what feeds LaNasa & Co.

I don't know if Stuart Dunwoody likes goth music, but his law firm represented Taylor Swift in a recent case. In college I was in a black metal band for a little bit. The bassist went on to become a lawyer.

You forget:

People who remember clearly what a mismanaged sh**show TSR was originally and frankly prefer WOTC.

I say that from authentic lived experience.

Do you think Mr Dunwoody likes goth?

For all the technological advances since, Pac-Man has a simple, addictive gameplay loop that continues to captivate. The success of Pac-Man is still a highwater mark for the videogame industry.

PAC-man is my game (though I’m not overly good at it) - if an electronic gadget I buy can’t run some version of it, it’s junk to me.

To quote the Temptations, "Absolutely nothing."

What do these bums have to offer?

Huh, releasing on the original cartridges. Bold move. Can't say I still have an original system (I mostly play them on the various PlayStation collections). I do recall that the controllers had this rubber sleeve that I could remove and use to create a serious of concentric circles on my twin brother's forehead if you were quick about it...

 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It's almost as if I wrote something, and you ignored it, and now you're doubling down.

Doubling down? Mr. Pot, meet Mr Kettle.

You gave a strong initial statement that is naturally positioned as a thesis. While you say you transitioned to a different point, the text doesn't make that nearly as clear as you seem to think. Blaming the reader for the results of your piece's structural flaws is not great. Doing so snarkily is even less great, especially if your goal is actually improved communication. If your goal is not improved communication, I suggest you step away from the keyboard.

And that's as far as I'm going to take this tangent.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Doubling down? Mr. Pot, meet Mr Kettle.

You gave a strong initial statement that is naturally positioned as a thesis. While you say you transitioned to a different point, the text doesn't make that nearly as clear as you seem to think. Blaming the reader for the results of your piece's structural flaws is not great. Doing so snarkily is even less great, especially if your goal is actually improved communication. If your goal is not improved communication, I suggest you step away from the keyboard.

And that's as far as I'm going to take this tangent.

Okay, let's play the overbearing pedant game that you love. Instead of stepping away from the keyboard, I'll type slowly so you can understand. Good? Are we done with the causal insults now?

1. The original post in this was by Ralif Redhammer (#173). Discussing, for the most part, why people either were unfamiliar with TSR or somewhat nostalgic ("remember TSR fondly").

2. The response by 5atbu complained that Ralif "forgot" those people who "remember clearly what a mismanaged sh**show TSR was originally ..."

3. My response to 5atbu was broken out as follows-
a. This is revisionist, because at the time the collapse of TSR was shocking. I mean, that's literally how I started it.
b. Moreover, TSR was pumping out products throughout its history, and even in 1997 when it collapsed.
c. So the idea that there's this big group of people that disliked TSR because of its mismanagement are usually conflating their memories of the fallout with what was going on before.
d. Moreover, the current success claimed (under WoTC ... which is really Hasbro ... in general, but especially regarding 5e) owes a great debt to mining the IP that was created by TSR.
e. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to disentangle the actual products, and when people either fondly remember "TSR" or denigrate "TSR," those are statements about the products, which were created by amazing people. Which goes back to the original post (that would be the one by Ralif) explaining why this is whole nuTSR BS is so obnoxious to those of us who do have fond memories of what TSR made.

But hey- great points you raised there. So glad you participated.
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I don't know what portion of my prior post you think this would invalidate but let's look.

yes, let's look. This is what you said:

It would absolutely be unreasonable to license out the logos that they use as trade dress, because it would create brand confusion over which entity is the creator and publisher of official content.

which seems to be invalided because WoTC is literally doing that exact thing by letting Weis and Hickman use the original DL logo.
Wizards gave permission for the creator of Dragonlance to use the original Dragonlance logo on the latest Dragonlance book. There is no brand confusion in that, because Wizards isn't publishing their own competing Dragonlance book.

Wizards isn't publishing anything with the old TSR logos either. That's sort of the entire point. But according to what you said earlier, they wouldn't give permission to any of the old logos because they do still use it as trade dress on DMsGuild. So which is it?

Based on the fact that Wizards is in fact giving permission for someone to use the original logo for something they currently are selling on DMsGuild, your comment earlier is clearly not accurate. They literally just did what you said "would absolutely be unreasonable".🤷‍♂️

Where is the post by the way, because it doesn't appear to be on Margaret's website, nor her twitter. Worse though, the cover doesn't appear to actually contain the "original Dragonlance logo" so much as the new "Classic" Dragonlance logo.

I can clearly see the statement in the article, but haven't found the original post and the logo on the cover isn't the logo she referenced.
It's literally on the first page of this forum, and was linked in the first post of the thread. (it's also on her FB) Not hard to find.
 

Fair. That's the thing - different TSRs exist in different people's memories. And where they all meet, that can get heated. The vitriol is a big part of what feeds LaNasa & Co.
I really don't think it's about memories of different versions of TSR causing any "heat" or "virtriol". That line of discussion upthread was more about its value as a marketing tool in the modern gaming era, and the different way people remember the company (if at all) impacting said value. I've never really seen any heated arguments over TSR as a company, though, despite those different feelings/memories of it.

What LaNasa and nuTSR are playing on are a couple of different but occasionally intersecting things:
  1. People who would be drawn to products with the TSR trademark, for a variety of reasons (Nostalgia, "official" OSR products )
  2. People who are "offended" by the labeling of older products as something that might have some content problems when viewed through modern sensibilities (anti-Wokeness)
It's the second one where the vitriol stems from. There may be bad faith arguments about the first, especially with regard to the trademark legal drama, but I'd say they're mostly rooted in the feelings of the second group.

Because of the type of person LaNasa seems to be, it's like he doesn't understand or care (more likely) that the second item conflicts with the first item to a large degree, as it actively drives many people who might have been actually interested in some new TSR-labeled products. It's certainly driven away some of the creative talent they hoped to draw to nuTSR.
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Because of the type of person LaNasa seems to be, it's like he doesn't understand or care (more likely) that the second item conflicts with the first item to a large degree, as it actively drives many people who might have been actually interested in some new TSR-labeled products. It's certainly driven away some of the creative talent they hoped to draw to nuTSR.

I agree with everything you wrote, but I'd go even farther.

For those of us who still have fond memories of TSR (as in, we still associate "TSR" with the amazing products that were put out), this is a total travesty.

It's find to have the past stay in the past. But it's absolutely terrible when someone resurrects a beloved mark and abuses it like this. They are knowingly trafficking in the nostalgia, and making it curdle because of their ineptness and divisiveness.

Yeah, it's just a mark. It's just three letters. But it's a shame.
 



That's fair. It's more what people bring with their memories (themselves, their own attitudes) than the company itself. The discourse we're seeing pretty well mirrors what we've seen in other hobbies and fandoms, and even broader the culture. The appeals, the arguments, the vileness, it all starts to feel so repetitive.

But I'd say that I've seen heated arguments over TSR the company - look back to discussions of Lorraine Williams, when 2e came out, or in the later 90s when they started sending their lawyers after fan websites.

I really don't think it's about memories of different versions of TSR causing any "heat" or "virtriol". That line of discussion upthread was more about its value as a marketing tool in the modern gaming era, and the different way people remember the company (if at all) impacting said value. I've never really seen any heated arguments over TSR as a company, though, despite those different feelings/memories of it.

What LaNasa and nuTSR are playing on are a couple of different but occasionally intersecting things:
  1. People who would be drawn to products with the TSR trademark, for a variety of reasons (Nostalgia, "official" OSR products )
  2. People who are "offended" by the labeling of older products as something that might have some content problems when viewed through modern sensibilities (anti-Wokeness)
It's the second one where the vitriol stems from. There may be bad faith arguments about the first, especially with regard to the trademark legal drama, but I'd say they're mostly rooted in the feelings of the second group.

Because of the type of person LaNasa seems to be, it's like he doesn't understand or care (more likely) that the second item conflicts with the first item to a large degree, as it actively drives many people who might have been actually interested in some new TSR-labeled products. It's certainly driven away some of the creative talent they hoped to draw to nuTSR.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
That's fair. It's more what people bring with their memories (themselves, their own attitudes) than the company itself. The discourse we're seeing pretty well mirrors what we've seen in other hobbies and fandoms, and even broader the culture. The appeals, the arguments, the vileness, it all starts to feel so repetitive.

So, how do YOU feel about the new Star Wars trilogy? ;)
 

Dire Bare

Legend
I really don't think it's about memories of different versions of TSR causing any "heat" or "virtriol".

If you were a D&D fan in the 70s, 80s, and/or 90s . . . . and perhaps were not aware of T$R (They $ue Regularly) and the mismanagement of the company, you might have very fond memories of their products and associate that with the TSR brand. If you were aware of how badly managed the company was and how poorly it treated it's customers and employees at times, you might still have fond memories of the products, but separate those good feelings from the brand.

Two different TSR's . . . . or rather, two different perspectives on the same company, those who associate the name TSR with all that classic D&D goodness, and those who make the distinction between the wonderful games and the terrible company.
 

But I'd say that I've seen heated arguments over TSR the company - look back to discussions of Lorraine Williams, when 2e came out, or in the later 90s when they started sending their lawyers after fan websites.
I'm old enough to remember those times (note my avatar), and don't recall a lot of argument amongst the game's fandom of those events. (Sure, lots of feelings about 2E coming out, as with any new edition, but conversations about the company with regards to that were tangential. People were talking about the changes to the game.) I mean, were there fans of TSR rabidly defending their litigious nature? As with anything, there are degrees, but I don't think I ever saw anyone say what TSR was doing at that time was a Good Idea in its totality.

Of course, we're talking about the days when such discussions were had in the letters pages of Dragon magazine, where the company obviously had control over what was printed, or small BBS's, or UseNet... in short, not a particularly wide audience to either participate or observe such discussions, so there may have been a pro-sue-the-fans faction I'm not aware of.

Still, I don't think it's those divisions that LaNasa has been trying to tap into in this day and age.

Two different TSR's . . . . or rather, two different perspectives on the same company, those who associate the name TSR with all that classic D&D goodness, and those who make the distinction between the wonderful games and the terrible company.
I don't disagree at all. I'm just saying the difference in those perspectives isn't the energy LaNasa is tapping into. I think even people who remember the screw-ups of old TSR might still be interested in new products with their trademark, mainly because of the implications of the types of products that might mean. At least, might have been interested, until nuTSR also revealed itself to be a clusterduck of incompetence.

But he is at the same time, and to a large degree contradictorily, trying to tap into the divisions created by WotC's actions on labeling some older material as potentially out of touch. And there is a fair amount of heat there (just read the latest thread on the Errata), but looking at his IndieGoGo, it's more smoke than fire.
 

darjr

I crit!
I’m in the same boat about not knowing lots of details about TSR back then. But looking back at Usenet I can see how they made a lot of folks steaming mad.
 



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