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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

Voranzovin

Explorer
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.
Yeah I used to wear tefillin every day while saying shacharite back when I was religious. I never saw the Dnd use of "phylactery" as having anti-semitic connotations, in part because liches don't have any other tropes commonly associated with anti-semitic stereotypes. Plus, frankly, the practice is so obscure that in my experience most Jews don't even know what tefillin are, let alone non-Jews.
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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.
And while I enjoyed that movie, would have made it much better! :p
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
In Xanathars, the list of names, there were a number of ethnic languages, Arabic, Greek, Norse, etcetera. But Hebrew felt conspicuously absent. I was uncomfortable with that.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
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.
It's kind of funny because that's almost certainly close to the etymology of the Greek word phylactery in the first place - some Greek scripture transcriber cobbling together a Greek term for a Jewish item.
 

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
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."

(emphasis mine)

Your evidence demonstrates my point; Games Workshop tried to claim "space marine" as their trademark, not as copyrighted material. Games Workshop thankfully bowed to public disapproval before testing their claim in court, so we unfortunately don't know for certain whether it would have succeeded or failed. I'm not confident enough in my "expertise" or my faith in either US or UK legal systems to assert that it would have failed, but a copyright claim absolutely would have.
 

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
In Xanathars, the list of names, there were a number of ethnic languages, Arabic, Greek, Norse, etcetera. But Hebrew felt conspicuously absent. I was uncomfortable with that.
There are almost 7,000 natural human languages spoken on Earth. It's estimated that 3,000 of those will be extinct by 2100.

1% of 4,000 is 40. How many lists were there in Xanathar's?

Please don't take this as me trying to deny your discomfort... I'm trying to offer you a more comfortable perspective.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
There are almost 7,000 natural human languages spoken on Earth. It's estimated that 3,000 of those will be extinct by 2100.

1% of 4,000 is 40. How many lists were there in Xanathar's?

Please don't take this as me trying to deny your discomfort... I'm trying to offer you a more comfortable perspective.
These ethnic languages mentioned by Xanathars are significant to English-speakers, many of them in personal names. The one that is missing is Hebrew. The missing language is especially conspicuous when Arabic and Egyptian are present.

And it isnt about population number. The number of Norse (Scandinavians and Icelanders) is in the same magnitude as the number of Hebrew (Israelis and Diaspora Jews).

And it isnt about religion, because the Greek and Latin of Christianity are present. And the Arabic of Islam.

Hebrew is missing.
 
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billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
These ethnic languages mentioned by Xanathars are significant to English-speakers, many of them in personal names. The one that is missing is Hebrew. The missing language is especially conspicuous when Arabic and Egyptian are present.
Inclusion of one group should not automatically be interpreted as a slight at another. That's just weaponizing identity.

Instead, think of why one might be included when the space for doing so is limited. There's a long history of using Egyptian tropes and mythology in D&D. That reasoning probably explains why Celtic, Norse, Mesoamerican, Greek, and Roman names are included as well. Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Indian, Japanese, and Spanish are all massive linguistic groups that also have history in D&D. The real interesting inclusions are Niger-Congo, Polynesian, and Slavic - they're the real winners of WotC growing the identity tent. And they're good inclusions.

Hebrew - kind of an also-ran compared to others also left out. Where's the Tagalog? There's about 7x the number of speakers of Tagalog than Hebrew. How about Turkish? Korean? Vietnamese? Where's the line drawn?
 

Probably best avoid list of names altogether... I think it was not received well to be honest... some people considered it a waste of space...

... i can offer a different explanation however:
there is a recent greek DnD setting, an old arabian nights setting and roman, egyptian and wikings also are common fantasy settings. Probably Hebrew is not connected to a classic setting. So I would not consider it conspicious...
... there are fair points to critic, even noting that you miss a list.
But calling it conspicious is uncalled for without evidence.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Hebrew - kind of an also-ran compared to others also left out. Where's the Tagalog? There's about 7x the number of speakers of Tagalog than Hebrew. How about Turkish? Korean? Vietnamese? Where's the line drawn?

Many English-speakers have Hebrew names, like John, David, Joseph, Mary, Beth, Anne, etcetera.

It is a prominent language.
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
Probably best avoid list of names altogether... I think it was not received well to be honest... some people considered it a waste of space...
My (unfounded) theory on the list of names is that some portion of the book was pulled out last minute but they still had to supply the same number of pages to the printer. Even if it wasn't it's a hatched job to fill space. We are not in the 80s anymore. People can look up name in the internet.
 

Voranzovin

Explorer
These ethnic languages mentioned by Xanathars are significant to English-speakers, many of them in personal names. The one that is missing is Hebrew. The missing language is especially conspicuous when Arabic and Egyptian are present.

And it isnt about population number. The number of Norse (Scandinavians and Icelanders) is in the same magnitude as the number of Hebrew (Israelis and Diaspora Jews).

And it isnt about religion, because the Greek and Latin of Christianity are ́present. And the Arabic of Islam.

Hebrew is missing.

There are explicitly Arabic, Egyptian, Norse, etc lands, peoples, and mythological entities present in DnD. The same isn't true for Jews (there are a few Jewish mythological concepts floating around, most obviously Golems, but they've been entirely shorn of their Jewish aspects).

And frankly, would you really want there to be? Given the history involved, it's almost impossible to imagine them adding explicitly Jewish lands or peoples without pissing basically everyone off (probably including me).

Personally, as a Jew, I don't particularly want to see Jews and Judaism represented in Dnd. It would almost certainly make me feel less welcome in the hobby.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
There are explicitly Arabic, Egyptian, Norse, etc lands, peoples, and mythological entities present in DnD. The same isn't true for Jews (there are a few Jewish mythological concepts floating around, most obviously Golems, but they've been entirely shorn of their Jewish aspects).

And frankly, would you really want there to be? Given the history involved, it's almost impossible to imagine them adding explicitly Jewish lands or peoples without pissing basically everyone off (probably including me).

Personally, as a Jew, I don't particularly want to see Jews and Judaism represented in Dnd. It would almost certainly make me feel less welcome in the hobby.
It is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, for example, the way D&D culturally appropriates and misrepresents Norse cultures can be aggravating.

On the other hand, being erased from the world is an other kind of evil.

The goal is to have an accurate and compassionate welcome.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
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.

Would you want to go up against probably the richest woman in the world in the dispute over whether your use of her entirely made-up word, when you are using it largely in the same way and context as she does? Are you sure you won't have tripped over into her "particular expression" in a way that will stick in court? I wouldn't be.

If you wanna start the Horcrux Donuts business, that's fine. Using the word in a fantasy work to denote a vessel for the spirit of a person making them nigh immortal? Probably not a good idea.
 
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It is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, for example, the way D&D culturally appropriates and misrepresents Norse cultures can be aggravating.

On the other hand, being erased from the world is an other kind of evil.

The goal is to have an accurate and compassionate welcome.

Jewish people will always be a part of D&D as long as the horribly negative Jewish stereotypes that are a part of the Dwarf are kept in the game. And I am not sure if there is any positive representation of the Hebrew or Semitic peoples of the Middle East at all, unless there is some in Al-Qadim?

Jewish religion is a different topic because the whole Judeo-Christo-Islamic thing is way too sensitive and volatile to ever make them a part of a fantasy game that wants global appeal, rather than a niche audience.
 

Jewish here, and though I certainly wouldn't speak for all Jews, yeah, the connection between the two seems tenuous at best.

As an aside, one thing I did notice recently, is that two of Dragonlance's deities are Habakkuk and Chislev. Clearly taken from the Hebrew, but I don't see a negative connotation, nor much of any connection beyond the names, much like Warhammer's Kislev.

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.
 

Voranzovin

Explorer
It is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, for example, the way D&D culturally appropriates and misrepresents Norse cultures can be aggravating.

On the other hand, being erased from the world is an other kind of evil.

The goal is to have an accurate and compassionate welcome.
I don't think an "accurate and compassionate welcome" is even possible in this case. Jewish mythological concepts are so different from DnD that the only way to integrate them would be to mangle them beyond recognition. I mean, can you imagine what combat would look like? Rocket tag to see who can pronounce YHVH first!
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Not that it changes anything about my opinion on whether phylactery is anti-Semitic or offensive, but I went back and looked at the 1e and 2e phylacteries and found this. There are three magic item phylacteries. All of which are priest only items, one of which specifically calls it out as being wrapped around the arm. Both editions use identical language.

It seems that when they made the game that they were aware of the religious use of the term and built their magic item phylacteries around that. Liches, though, are different and any object can be used, so that one used the alternate definition.
 

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