Friday, October 16, 2020

Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum Claims Ownership of "Classic" TSR Logos, Offers to License them to OSR Publishers

The Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum, located in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, is offering to license a selection of "Classic" TSR Logos via a claim of state trademark of "TSR".

Note: The Federal trademark for TSR is WAS owned by TSR Games (edit - the TM was CANCELED last year - wow, this is a magilla)  publishers of the Top Secret New World Order RPG. TSR Games registered its federal trademark in 2011. The trademark was formerly owned by WotC, who were determined to have abandoned the trademark in 2004. At this point, TSR Games would be relying upon Common Law, which is shaky ground in trademark law.

Additional note: The iconic images of the various "classic" TSR logos would likely still fall under copyright law. The images created from 1978 onward would then still be owned by WotC. Ownership of images prior to 1977 would need the consultation of an IP lawyer, as the possibility is some may be in the public domain.  

Observation. The Dungeon Hobby Shop has filed for at least three federal trademarks regarding the various TSR Logos:


Note: These are all Live Applications Awaiting Examination. They have NOT been approved. Therefore, the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum lacks the right to license them.

These are the classes the applications are asking to cover:

Here's the canceled "new" TSR trademark:

Expect expensive lawyers to be involved, especially if WotC claims the copyright of the images of the iconic logos.

Also, "New" TSR with their canceled copyright is guaranteed to fight the cancelation. Potentially another expensive legal battle with the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum looms. The TSR brand seems to have expensive legal battles follow it around ;)

If the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum had simply waited for approval of their Trademark filing before announcing their ill-thought-out licensing proposition, we likely never would have known the trademark for TSR had been canceled and it would have been a simple snipe to grab.

More on this on the Tavern Chat Podcast and The Tavern's Youtube Channel from before I had knowledge of the cancelation of the TSR trademark.

Tomorrow we'll likely talk about membership and table fees at the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum.

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  1. Man WotC are going to be shaking when hobby shop dungeon asks them to remove their logo from all of the classic items they are selling on Drive Thru RPG. With all of the mess Hobby shop dungeon has got them selves into why would they open this can of worms.

  2. Poking the bear. Why antagonize Hasbro? They can bury Dungeon Shop in legal wranglings. Could they not hav ecome up with something original?
    Dungeon Shop, if it wins out will only be asking for it with endless TSR refernces not related their game.

  3. These clowns should have gotten a better lawyer.

    It'd be a shame to see the museum endeavor die due to some moron and his greed at profiteering from infringing copyright.

  4. Who runs the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum? The Gygax brothers? Is this connected to TSR Games (which, you note, seem to have lost that trademark) or an independent venture?

    1. Justin LaNasa appears to be the main force behind the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum.

      Ernie is in a pic on the website, so I guess he is involved.

    2. That would explain the email address and phone number I guess. He's the owner of the tattoo shop those point to.

  5. Who runs the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum? The Gygax brothers?

    You say TSR Games has lost their trademark on the name? Any more info on how that happened?

    1. from what I can gather from the link to the government's trademark website, a failure to respond / renew. I'm sure there ae others in the community that can make better sense of the information available at the link I shared in the post.

  6. Is anyone else confused as too their contact info?: Isn't the street address one of Gary's old houses? Their email is for a tattoo shop in Wilmington NC and the phone is the cell of one of said shop's employees. WTF is going on here?

  7. Replies
    1. Megillah
      one of five books of the Hebrew scriptures (the Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther) that are appointed to be read on certain Jewish notable days, especially the Book of Esther, read at the festival of Purim.

  8. Trademark and copyright are very different things. You can't copyright a trademark. That is not how it works.

    1. You certainly can trademark a copyright-protected image.

  9. Does Wizards of the Coast even care about the old TSR branding?

    That's the biggest question. Keep in mind that if they were even the least bit concerned about this, they would have acted back when the "new" TSR was formed. They could have stopped that company from using their abandoned trademark, but they didn't, and neither did they stop the company from producing a new Top Secret game.

    That being said, using the three old logos in their exact original form could lead to a copyright issue. Copyright can in some cases protect the logo if it is artistic and very specific. A few of those are.

    But again, in this particular case, it's probably based on what Hasbro cares about. They may not care unless the logos are used to actually cause consumer confusion. The Current D&D doesn't use any of the old logos, they mostly show up in older material, and Wizards still has full copyright protection on them. Let's say, worst case scenario, the new Trademark owners tried to block Wizards from publishing an old D&D product, one of two things could happen. They just scrub the trademark from the product visually. Or, they may decide let's not reprint this and remove old products from release.

    It's possible that the new TSR is cool with the "newer" TSR taking over. Note the old web site for TSR is gone.

    What amazes me though is the thought that the TSR logo is valuable by itself? Why? Use of the logo is mostly based on nostalgia for the old products. And the new owners don't have any of that. Creativity does not equal branding. If you're first thought when acquiring a trademark is licensing it to third party publishers--that's not a very good business model.

    1. You make some valid points.

      The TSR webstite is still up though: http://store.tsrgames.com/top-secret-new-world-order-hardback-book-limited-edition/

    2. "New' TSR Games never tried to trademark the old logos, just the word mark, yeah?

  10. There seem to be some good faith/bad faith issues around registering even a public domain TSR logo for your company, and implying you're their authorised successor. There seems a fair chance these TMs won't be granted, if anyone files an objection. Filing something that is (c) another company is a big no-no, of course.

  11. IIRC those are actually subclasses that are being applied for, it's the main classes that matter.


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