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TSR TSR (2) Confirms TSR (3)'s Acquisition of Trademark (Updated!)

Jayson Elliot registered the TSR trademark back in 2011 and used it to launch Gygax Magazine along with Ernie and Luke Gygax. The two Gygax's left the company a few years later after Gary Gygax's (co-founder of TSR (1) back in the 1970s) widow, Gail Gygax, forced the closure of Gygax Magazine. Then, earlier this year, TSR (3) swooped in on the TSR trademark, after Jayson Elliot accidentally let it lapse, as TSR (2) confirms:

We have owned the TSR trademark since 2011. Last year, we missed a filing date, and another company registered it, though we are still using it in commerce. While we could win a lawsuit, we frankly don't have the money to litigate. So, we're licensing it back from them.

As a result, there are two companies now using the name TSR. You can tell when it's us because we're the only ones using the new logo.

They're opening a museum in Lake Geneva at the old TSR house, and we wish them success with it, it's important to celebrate the legacy that Gary Gygax created.


Ernie Gygax, formerly of TSR (1) under Gary Gygax, then working with Jayson Elliot as part of TSR (2), is one of the founders of of TSR (3), and confirmed in his (now infamous) interview --

The other TSR is a licensee because [Jayson Elliot] let it lapse. But he had absolutely ... love for the game and the products. There was no reason to say 'oh you've screwed up, oh it's all ours, ha ha ha ha!' Instead, Justin [LaNasa] came to him and said ... we love that you're doing Top Secret things, we have a much broader goal for the whole thing. But there's no reason for you to stop or even have any troubles. Justin said, I'll take care of the paperwork, you just give me $10 a year, and you put out all this love for old school gaming that you can. And we appreciate that you were there to try and pick up things, and you produced Gygax Magazine, for in its time that you're also working on a game that you love to play ... because Top Secret was Jayson's love, as a young man.


TSR (2), still run by Jayson Elliot, publishes Top Secret, and is not connected to TSR (3) other than now having to license it’s own name from them. TSR (3) has also registered the trademark to Star Frontiers, a game owned by and still currently sold by D&D-owner WotC.

In other news the GYGAX trademark appears to have lapsed.


tsr2.png

UPDATE! TSR (2) has decided NOT to license its own name from TSR (3):

Update to our earlier tweet - we will NOT be licensing anything from the new company claiming rights to the TSR logos. We are not working with them in any fashion.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


Corrosive

Adventurer
So let me get this straight.

When Ernie Gygax's ex-business partner, with whom he was happy to build a company called TSR a few years ago, and who has been trading under that name ever since, made a clerical error, rather than point it out to him and say "hey, friend, you'd better re-register your trademark, you missed the filing date", Ernie Gygax and company snatched up the trademark and then made the previous trademark holder licence it from them, while making it appear like they were doing him a favor?
 



MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
So let me get this straight.

When Ernie Gygax's ex-business partner, with whom he was happy to build a company called TSR a few years ago, and who has been trading under that name ever since, made a clerical error, rather than point it out to him and say "hey, friend, you'd better re-register your trademark, you missed the filing date", Ernie Gygax and company snatched up the trademark and then made the previous trademark holder licence it from them, while making it appear like they were doing him a favor?
It's a nominal fee. It isn't as if they are literally extorting Jayson and raking in the doug. (A cheap license would be in the hundreds every year)
 




Jer

Adventurer
From a branding perspective, even under the best of circumstances branding your company's name with a mark you don't own is probably not a good idea. Especially if the company that controls the mark is going to be publishing their own material under that same mark. If I were in that situation I'd be looking to rebrand my company as fast as possible under a name that I control even if there weren't an ongoing PR dumpsterfire going on with the other company using that mark.
 


imagineGod

Legend
So let me get this straight.

When Ernie Gygax's ex-business partner, with whom he was happy to build a company called TSR a few years ago, and who has been trading under that name ever since, made a clerical error, rather than point it out to him and say "hey, friend, you'd better re-register your trademark, you missed the filing date", Ernie Gygax and company snatched up the trademark and then made the previous trademark holder licence it from them, while making it appear like they were doing him a favor?
The previous licence holder did also ride on the coattails of Tactical Studios Rules.
EGG's swooping in to get the trademark may not have been a malicious scheme. Maybe he saw the lapse as a threat that another company could get it. The other company may not have allowed Jayson to produce anything.
Not a fan of anything they've done thus far, but sometimes not everything is a wicked move.
Plus, now that WoTC is officially bad mouthing Gary Gygax design decisions, as being wrong then and not just from today's perspective, the revived TSR trademark offers a real chance for his children to leverage TSR branding and new content, to restore the good legacy of Gary Gygax, instead of just looking helplessly as WoTC via DriveTgruRPG present their father negatively to new players.
 

Hussar

Legend
The previous licence holder did also ride on the coattails of Tactical Studios Rules.

Plus, now that WoTC is officially bad mouthing Gary Gygax design decisions, as being wrong then and not just from today's perspective, the revived TSR trademark offers a real chance for his children to leverage TSR branding and new content, to restore the good legacy of Gary Gygax, instead of just looking helplessly as WoTC via DriveTgruRPG present their father negatively to new players.
That is certainly a ... creative interpretation of events.
 


EGG's swooping in to get the trademark may not have been a malicious scheme. Maybe he saw the lapse as a threat that another company could get it. The other company may not have allowed Jayson to produce anything.
Not a fan of anything they've done thus far, but sometimes not everything is a wicked move.
Swooping in rather than warning his "friend" that they'd messed up? Or even swooping in and then selling the trademark back to the person who'd been using it at cost plus a few drinks? And then licensing the trademark off them?

It's at the very least an extremely sleazy move to pull on a friend. And one thing we know is that we can't trust TSR (2) on the subject of their feelings because TSR (3) can always threaten to pull the license; it's a blackmail situation.

Also could anyone who is a lawyer confirm the situation if you trademark the name of someone else's pre-existing business because I'm not sure that TSR (2) aren't being conned here in addition to everything else.
 

imagineGod

Legend
That is certainly a ... creative interpretation of events.
I cannot guarantee that Ernie Gygax will succeed in clearing his father's name. But do not speak ill of the dead, is a common enough saying,. Especially seeing how now, so many D&D players have recently increased the amount of negativity they associate with Gary Gygax, D&D's godfather, and even to quote his alignment system, being somewhat evil.
 

Wow, that's too bad for Jayson. All the dude wants is to republish Top Secret.

TSR (3) seems determined to burn any good will immediately. Gosh, I'd forgotten what it was like to have a TSR around that you could really, really dislike and feel totally justified about. It's almost refreshing if it weren't so horrific.
 
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Retreater

Legend
When Disney puts blanket disclaimers in front of old cartoons or there's warnings in front of old Loony Tunes, Tom & Jerry, etc, I don't view those as "tarnishing the legacy" of the creators. I think few people do. It's not like when a studio digitally removed Kevin Spacey from a film and replaced him with another actor.
I don't think Wizards is calling out a specific designer, and if we want to look at history, late era TSR was far more "cancelling" Gygax ... Even if only for financial reasons.
 



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