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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

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
* The presentation of women in the AD&D rulebooks (eg strength limits;​
In addition to Roget's Thesaurus (previous post), I would be kind of surprised if he didn't have a Guinness Book of World's Records (or the like) sitting around which would have "backed up" some of that if he was trying to be "simulationist". (Which probably leads to a discussion of how what folks choose to "simulate" and what they don't ties in to their values and what society around them has brought to their attention).
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I had no idea! :.-(

I'm guessing a lot of things in D&D came from Roget's Thesaurus which has phylactery under amulet and going with charm, fetish, amulet, antinganting, periapt, and talisman (so definitions 2 and 3 in the OED). I wonder what WotC's answer would be now if it was pointed out how that feels bad in light of it's first definition.
It's not just Roget's Thesaurus. If you bring up the dictionary definitions, amulet and amulet to ward danger come up as alternate definitions as well.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
It's not just Roget's Thesaurus. If you bring up the dictionary definitions, amulet and amulet to ward danger come up as alternate definitions as well.
Yeah, it's not a great look in some ways, but based on the usage of the word in written sources I don't think the Lake Geneva crowd was making that potential anti-Semetic connection intentionally, or even knew about it.
 

It's not just Roget's Thesaurus. If you bring up the dictionary definitions, amulet and amulet to ward danger come up as alternate definitions as well.
It is so sad that words you use can have a totally neutral meaning for you but for other persons it is associated with real discrimination.
If you take into account that internet back then was not a thing, you probably never got the chance to double check with different sources.
So associating someone with discrimination just because of a word usage that has several meanings is a fallacy. You can however point it out to them and then you can judge by the reaction and the actions taken.

Those things can always happen, even today with access to internet. Because we don't know all cultures. But if someome points it out, you need to listen.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yeah, it's not a great look in some ways, but based on the usage of the word in written sources I don't think the Lake Geneva crowd was making that potential anti-Semetic connection intentionally, or even knew about it.
I'm a Jewish Catholic, having converted to Catholicism 7 years ago. I still have a very strong Jewish identity, though. I can say that never have I felt that the D&D use of phylactery(of which there are multiple, not just Liches), was either anti-Semitic or offensive. The same with all of the other Jewish individuals I played D&D with, and one of the first groups I played with was at a local Jewish Community Center.

There are potentially offensive things in D&D to look at, but I don't think phylactery is really one of them.
 


DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
Yeah, it's not a great look in some ways, but based on the usage of the word in written sources I don't think the Lake Geneva crowd was making that potential anti-Semetic connection intentionally, or even knew about it.

No, almost certainly not. It was an innocent mistake almost fifty years ago. But it's a mistake that hasn't been corrected in almost fifty years.
 

Riley

Adventurer
I don't think the Lake Geneva crowd was making that potential anti-Semetic connection intentionally, or even knew about it.

But if someome points it out, you need to listen.

👍👍

I looked up phylactery in a dictionary or thesaurus or whatever circa 1983 to figure out what the rule book was talking about, and learned only that it was a synonym for amulet.

I only learned here today that it has a specific religious/cultural meaning. I see no reason that a lich’s unlife repository needs to be called that going forward.

Given the apparent lack of urgent need to produce a 6e, hopefully Wizards can take time to carefully consider which bits of appropriation to retire with its next edition.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I'm a Jewish Catholic, having converted to Catholicism 7 years ago. I still have a very strong Jewish identity, though. I can say that never have I felt that the D&D use of phylactery(of which there are multiple, not just Liches), was either anti-Semitic or offensive. The same with all of the other Jewish individuals I played D&D with, and one of the first groups I played with was at a local Jewish Community Center.

There are potentially offensive things in D&D to look at, but I don't think phylactery is really one of them.
The phylactery used in D&D bears no resemblance to the Tefillin, for that matter: phylactery is a broader Greek word for Talisman, and it seems the original D&D phylactery was actually a hidden jar. More Universal's "The Mummy" than anything: so more than passing Orientalist, but not drawing from anti-Semetic tropes per se. It'd be a pretty silly Lich who wore their Horcrux on their brow and hands.
 




Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Depends on if Rowling copyrighted it or not.

The books, of course, are covered by copyright.

Whether that covers the word itself will, I think, depend on whether the word exists anywhere before the (copyright protected) book she first used it in. If there's prior art, she cannot claim claim copyright on it.
 


DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
But you can't copyright individual words, only fairly long sequences of words. You can trademark proper names, but the exclusivity of trademarks is really very limited.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Horcrux is, sadly, an entirely invented term by Joanne, and therefore presumably part of the copyright she has on the Harry Potter books as a whole. I'm not gonna pretend to understand copyright law in my own country, let alone the UK, but that seems reasonable.

Fortunately, we (and by we I presumably include WotC) have the same ability to come up with new terminology bereft of religious connotation (come to think of it, should we be discussing golems as well?), as ancient Latin and Greek have no shortage prefixes and suffixes with which to mangle together new words.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
But you can't copyright individual words, only fairly long sequences of words. You can trademark proper names, but the exclusivity of trademarks is really very limited.
If I'm understanding this correctly, this is the same as it being okay to have a character mention talk about Jedi in your work, but it's not okay for you work to have Jedi in it.

Which I think would cover the use of the term "horcrux" in place of "phylactery", being that D&D would not only be appropriate the term, but also the copyrighted usage/meaning of the term
 

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
I'm not sure that's true. I don't think the studio or the distributor of The Men Who Stare at Goats asked Lucasfilm for permission or paid them a dime. If I remember correctly, Games Workshop never tried to copyright "space marine", they tried to trademark it. And given that a "space marine" is just... what any normal person would call a marine in space, they would have failed.

Wendy's published Feast of Legends and owns the copyright and all of the relevant trademarks. I can name my daughter "Wendy". I can name any of the characters in my books "Wendy" or even "Queen Wendy". Pretty much the only thing in the universe I can't name "Wendy" is a thing that sells food, and I can't sell food with a picture of a redhead with pigtails. As long as my "Queen Wendy" doesn't rule a food kingdom, and isn't a redhead with pigtails, trademark doesn't apply.

I don't think JK Rowling has ever tried to use "horcrux" as a trademark, much less register it, and nobody would confuse D&D for Harry Potter because of the use of the term. Her right to protect her unique identity in the marketplace isn't infringed.

Of course, I'm not a lawyer, just and IP reform advocate. If you want to use "horcrux" in your work, you should ask a qualified IP lawyer.

Hasbro has those on retainer.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
The Men Who Stare at Goats would fall along the lines of former example (ie; using "Jedi" as a reference), they aren't actually literal Jedi. If halfway through the film George Clooney is walking down a hallway and Ewan McGregor drops down from nowhere in a brown robe, says "Hello there", ignites a lightsaber, and force pushes Clooney down on his ass, I imagine that would have raised eyebrows over at Lucasfilm.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
If I remember correctly, Games Workshop never tried to copyright "space marine", they tried to trademark it. And given that a "space marine" is just... what any normal person would call a marine in space, they would have failed.
On the contrary:

"In December 2012, online retailer Amazon.com removed the e-book Spots the Space Marine by M.C.A. Hogarth at the request of games company Games Workshop. They claimed the use of the phrase "space marine" infringed on their trademark of the term for their game Warhammer 40,000. In February 2013, the row received a lot of publicity, with authors such as Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross and John Scalzi supporting Hogarth, and Amazon.com then restored the e-book for sale."

 

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