[UPDATED AGAIN] Gary Gygax's Widow & TSR Settle Trademark Dispute

Gail Gygax has just sent me a short statement regarding the resolution of a trademark dispute between herself and the owners of Gygax Magazine. Gail is, of course, the late Gary Gygax's wife, and some of the owners of the magazine are his sons [update - both left the company a while back]. A quick look at USPTO.gov reveals the trademark application by Gail Gygax in 2013, which I'm given to understand was challenged by TSR, Inc. that same year. TSR, Inc. was formed a couple of years ago to produce the (at the time) new Gygax Magazine; it's not the original TSR founded in 1973 and sold to WotC in 1997. The statement reads as follows.

The Gail C. Gygax Revocable Trust, owner of the intellectual property of the late E. Gary Gygax, and TSR, Inc., a corporation formed by Jayson Elliot, Tim Kask, Ernie Gygax, Luke Gygax and James Carpio have reached a mutually agreeable resolution of their trademark dispute at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Pursuant to their agreement, the Trust will license the Gygax Magazine trademark to TSR on a non-exclusive basis.

UPDATE: I've been informed by a representative of Luke and Ernie Gygax that both of them left the company. Mrs. Gygax reached a settlement with TSR, Inc., and Luke and Ernie have both withdrawn from TSR as a result of the settlement. Neither of them are affiliated with the company any longer.

Ernie Gygax has now made a public Facebook post about the matter which makes it clear that this settlement was not arrived at amicably.

It is with a heavy heart that I have had to remove myself from TSR and GYGAX magazine. Benoist and I will continue to share original old school gaming. All of which I learned at my fathers side, just as Luke and I also learned how to repair shoes in our youth. I am awake now at 2:42 AM as foolishness infringes on my ability to even enjoy a sound nights rest. I am proud to one of Gary's many offspring and just wish that I had his drive and fortitude to generate material as he did. Yet the acorn doesn't fall far from the Oak and the work that will be created will be in honor of his memory. I wish it to be said that both Tim Kask and R Scott Taylor refused to sign the deal as well when asked.

So it sounds like both parties have reached an agreement, that's it's far from amicable, that Gail Gygax's trust owns the Gygax trademark, but that the trademark is licensed to TSR, Inc. The statement doesn't indicate how long that license is for, or whether any other terms are attached. And, of course, the trademarked name is the actual name of Gygax's sons Luke and Ernie, which is why they refused sign the settlement.

You can see the trademark applications here at USPTO.gov. Gail Gygax made an application on March 4th, 2013. Gygax Magazine #1 was released the month before that, in February 2013. TSR, Inc made an application for the same trademark on September 30th, 2013. There are some similar entries for other dates.

You'll find Gygax Magazine here. It appears that Gail's trust also made an application for Gygaxian on August 7th this year.

A little background - I know most who read this know who Gary Gygax was, but new people are coming into the hobby all the time. This is the super-short version. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson (both sadly passed) co-created Dungeons & Dragons back in the 1970s. The whole history of Gygax and TSR is fraught with conflict - Gary was ousted from the original TSR, he and Arneson fell out, and of course Gail Gygax and the new TSR, Inc. (which until recently included Gary's sons Luke and Ernie) have been embroiled in the above legal dispute for two years. This long interview with Gary Gygax is a fascinating read. The whole history has been, to put it mildly, litigious!


GygaxMag.jpg
 
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Russ Morrissey

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MartyW

Explorer
Whatever Gary’s wishes were regarding his IP, I’m sure he would’ve wanted people to play his games and enjoy the products of his work. Instead, Castle Zagyg, Lejendary Adventures, and more all sit in limbo.

Nail on the head. Instead of leveraging Gygax's IP, she's flushing it down the toilet... and regardless if Gary left her the rights to his IP, Luke and Ernie's name is ALSO GYGAX. They were't using Gary's IP, they were using their own freakin' last name for the magazine.

Shame on Gail. They were at least doing something in gaming that contributes to the family name and legacy. She's just... I don't know what she's doing because she is basically preventing anyone from reprinting any of Gary's work from the post-TSR era.
 


Benji

First Post
They should just release a new magazine called "Sons of Gygax! [Tagline] No Relation! Except Of Course, For The Fact We're Actually Related...God This Is Awkard, Could You Just Buy The Magazine Already?".

Ludicrous. Soon we'll have have to refer to him as Mr.X when we post for fear of legal action.
 


JohnRTroy

Adventurer
Shame on Gail. They were at least doing something in gaming that contributes to the family name and legacy. She's just... I don't know what she's doing because she is basically preventing anyone from reprinting any of Gary's work from the post-TSR era.

To be fair on this though. Gary's "legacy" doesn't depend on any of Gary's descendants including Gail. The Legacy of Gary is that he co-created D&D and was the driving force behind Greyhawk and a lot of stuff we love. And coverage of that legacy is done by biographies and game historians--sheesh, he has a very large entry on Wikipedia and has had things in science named after him.

The little IP that Gary left to Gail has is probably never going to be that relevant in the large scheme of things--LA ran for a decade and it might not be worth reprinting since it wasn't a high seller, and Castle Zagyg was unfinished and was a troubled project, and Gary just died too soon. I would love to see it published someday, but I don't think the lack of it will have any effect on his legacy.

The legacy of Gary is preserved, at least as long as D&D remains relevant--nothing lasts forever culturally, except the most important stuff--500 years from now I doubt D&D or Gygax will be anything remembered, since when that much time passes whole civilizations change.

I think too many people worry about this way too much.
 
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Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
To be fair on this though. Gary's "legacy" doesn't depend on any of Gary's descendants including Gail. The Legacy of Gary is that he co-created D&D and was the driving force behind Greyhawk and a lot of stuff we love. And coverage of that legacy is done by biographies and game historians--sheesh, he has a very large entry on Wikipedia and has had things in science named after him.


Legacies can live on if they are tied to celebrations and good times. They can also be damaged by the actions and efforts of those in charge of them. The statue design is gauche and will be an eyesore if constructed as shown. It should have been erected in a simpler form years ago. Whoever has advised her to make this complicated and difficult can see the results. If it were simplified it could be done yesterday, then time and effort could be put toward the written materials portion of Gary's legacy. The thing is, everyone has a legacy and putting up Gary's statue and handling Gary's legacy is actually someone else's legacy.


The little IP that Gary left to Gail has is probably never going to be that relevant in the large scheme of things--LA ran for a decade and it might not be worth reprinting since it wasn't a high seller, and Castle Zagyg was unfinished and was a troubled project, and Gary just died too soon.


Print on Demand has virtually no overhead. It allows previously published materials to be evergreen and always available. Even if nothing new from Gary's unpublished materials are brought to light (which I would think many people would want), it makes no sense that the minimal step hasn't been taken of making previously published materials for which Gary had rights available in POD format. POD sales of previously published materials could have already generated a half a decade of revenue to be put toward the statue or for organizing and publishing previously unpublished materials.


The legacy of Gary is preserved, at least as long as D&D remains relevant--nothing lasts forever culturally, except the most important stuff--500 years from now I doubt D&D or Gygax will be anything remembered, since when that much time passes whole civilizations change.

I think too many people worry about this way too much.


Not everyone shares the opinion that all there is now for the legacy is for it to begin to fade. You've been white-knighting someone who is generally believed to be getting really bad advice and the positions you hold regarding legacies also seem to be really bad advice. When people look toward the Gygax Memorial Fund to see how the legacy has been handled since Gary's passing, opinions may differ on the aesthetics of the statue design. Fair enough. But there is no doubt that it could have been made simpler and therefore less expensive, and thus might already be constructed. It's also true that if they look toward the fund to see what has been done regarding Gary's previously published (stuff for which he held the rights) and unpublished materials they will find nothing old reprinted and nothing new made available in any format. The website is lacking and the transparency that once was cultivated has fallen away for the last couple of years. Even you must know that not being advised to keep up the transparency and website makes, at the least, her advisers look less than adequate if not bad. Why would YOU not drop her a line regarding the obvious problems? A quick glance at the website and it jumps up and pokes you in the eye (screencap below). Impossible to miss if you have her interests at heart and glance over the website for less time than it takes to read this thread.

I did a quick search before writing this post to see what your opinions were regarding Gary's legacy closer to his passing. Do me a favor, check out those old posts of yours before responding to my post, if responding is even crossing your mind. We don't really need to have a back-and-forth if your opinion is essentially unchanged.
 

JohnRTroy

Adventurer
Why would YOU not drop her a line regarding the obvious problems? A quick glance at the website and it jumps up and pokes you in the eye (screencap below). Impossible to miss if you have her interests at heart and glance over the website for less time than it takes to read this thread.

We weren't discussing the memorial project here in this thread. But I definitely have told Gail to get her memorial web site up to date and to make more updates. As for the design of the memorial--I suspect people are looking at that picture and thinking it's a final idea, rather than an artistic concept. I doubt the final product would look bad.

Please don't mistake my defense of Gail for saying I always agree with her.
 

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
We weren't discussing the memorial project here in this thread.


Any discussion of Gary's legacy includes the Gygax Memorial Fund by default.


Please don't mistake my defense of Gail for saying I always agree with her.


I've seen nothing in your posts since Gary's passing showing any disagreement whatsoever regarding the manner in which she handles Gary's legacy. There's no mistaking that.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
To be fair on this though. Gary's "legacy" doesn't depend on any of Gary's descendants including Gail. The Legacy of Gary is that he co-created D&D and was the driving force behind Greyhawk and a lot of stuff we love. And coverage of that legacy is done by biographies and game historians--sheesh, he has a very large entry on Wikipedia and has had things in science named after him.

The little IP that Gary left to Gail has is probably never going to be that relevant in the large scheme of things--LA ran for a decade and it might not be worth reprinting since it wasn't a high seller, and Castle Zagyg was unfinished and was a troubled project, and Gary just died too soon. I would love to see it published someday, but I don't think the lack of it will have any effect on his legacy.

The legacy of Gary is preserved, at least as long as D&D remains relevant--nothing lasts forever culturally, except the most important stuff--500 years from now I doubt D&D or Gygax will be anything remembered, since when that much time passes whole civilizations change.

I think too many people worry about this way too much.

This.

None of us have full information, and this family dispute is none of our business. The situation is unfortunate, but Gary's "legacy" isn't besmirched. Those criticizing either party, Gail Gygax or Gary's son's, are doing so from a place of ignorance. Especially the veiled accusations of fraud toward's Gygax's wife.

It'd be nice if a memorial was built for Gary at some point, but if it doesn't come together, it's not the end of the world. It'd be nice if some of Gary's older work (unfinished or otherwise) saw print again someday, but if not, we aren't missing out on Gary's "legacy".

I agree with John. Way too many people are worrying about this way too much. The heated emotions, veiled accusations, and name-calling has gone way too far. I really doubt Gary would be happy with the dispute between members of his family, but I'd bet he'd be even less happy with some of his fans acting the way they are right now.
 

Cody C. Lewis

First Post
This.

None of us have full information, and this family dispute is none of our business.

You keep saying it's not our business, and I will continue to disagree. We are the consumer, and we certainly may ask whatever questions we would like especially if it may affect where our future dollars go. Just Google Valero, I certainly do not give them any business.

Also, I don't know about anyone else's family, but I believe once someone actually takes a family member to court, it is way past 'family dispute'.
 

El_Gringo

First Post
You keep saying it's not our business, and I will continue to disagree. We are the consumer, and we certainly may ask whatever questions we would like especially if it may affect where our future dollars go. Just Google Valero, I certainly do not give them any business.

Also, I don't know about anyone else's family, but I believe once someone actually takes a family member to court, it is way past 'family dispute'.

I think it would be proper to call her statement a press release. It's definitely within the purview of public discussion. While it's true we don't have all the information, Gail's decision to release a public statement will naturally draw speculation. It will either result in the release of more information or it will be a nebulous situation that will never be clarified. Either way, this discussion was brought about by one of the parties involved. They wanted this.
 

tenkar

Old School Blogger
The Gygax Memorial Fund is looking for people to donate - that makes it everyone's business.

Trademark disputes and the like are a separate issue.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
The Gygax Memorial Fund is looking for people to donate - that makes it everyone's business.

Exactly. People and organizations (such as WotC) have already donated more than 200k to the Fund. Wanting to know what's going to happen with that money is legitimate.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
Both parties involved have made public statements (a press release in case of Gail Gygax) and so the issue has been made public and is a legitimate topic of discussion.
 
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Dire Bare

Legend
You keep saying it's not our business, and I will continue to disagree. We are the consumer, and we certainly may ask whatever questions we would like especially if it may affect where our future dollars go. Just Google Valero, I certainly do not give them any business.

Also, I don't know about anyone else's family, but I believe once someone actually takes a family member to court, it is way past 'family dispute'.

The Gygax Memorial Fund is looking for people to donate - that makes it everyone's business.

Trademark disputes and the like are a separate issue.

Both parties involved have made public statements (a press release in case of Gail Gygax) and so the issue has been made public and is a legitimate topic of discussion.

Discussing possible future products from Gary's legacy is legit, and discussing a charity that you've donated to (or plan to donate to) is also legit.

And, although tangentially related, the discussion regarding the family dispute long ago crossed the line into "none of our business" and also, IMO, highly inappropriate. Reading some of the comments on ENWorld, Tenkar's blog, and other places regarding the rift between Gail and Gary's sons, there is a lot of mean-spiritedness, accusations, and name-calling from folks who have very little information to base their ignorant comments on.

As Umbran said in another thread, running a charity is not a trivial thing, even a small one. And while I'm sure honoring her late husband is one of Gail's priorities, I doubt her life centers around the charity (nor should it) and it's not like she came into this with experience in the matter. I can understand her wanting to control her late husband's legacy, as he bequeathed it to her, and I can also understand if she is hesitant to engage with the fan community, as our loudest voices are impatient, insulting, armchair quarterbacking, and more than a bit whiney.
 

Cody C. Lewis

First Post
Reading some of the comments on ENWorld, Tenkar's blog, and other places regarding the rift between Gail and Gary's sons, there is a lot of mean-spiritedness, accusations, and name-calling from folks who have very little information to base their ignorant comments on.

I would not disagree with this statement.

My disagreement is the thought that the community has zero business trying to discern the events that have transpired. Lucas, even before selling SW to Disney, didn't own Star Wars; the fans did. I feel the same way about a lot of the things the Gary was involved in. And it goes far beyond just the things that were still his IP. His memory, his accomplishments, his legacy - those are ours.

Gail/whoever does not "own" Gary's legacy, we do. X person won't live indefinitely, but hopefully, Gary and Dave's accomplishments can be appreciated for at least a few more decades.

If the 'family dispute' was over who gets the cat's ashes when it dies... you're right, that is not our business. But when IP, lawsuits, and family members are losing their jobs are all involved... we're going to ask questions.
 

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