Between my education and experience I've learned a lot about forming a company, from a legal compliance aspect, and trademarks/copywrite.
Yeah....Erik called it yesterday, "TSR Trademark Assigned June 16th - Let the Flurry of Pointless Announcements Begin!"
For some reason I was actually surprised when I go this off of Google news:
Now I read the article and wow, just wow. Now I do realize that actual writers/journalists, unlike bloggers, don't write the titles to their articles, BUT if you read the article (just click the pic above), you might come to the same conclusion as I have that the title accurately depicts the contents of the article.
I'm not hating on Jr. or TSR, but this is clearly NOT a "relaunch" of an old company. This is a brand-fricken-new-company with no legal ties to the old company, despite the fact that there are personal ties to the old company and whatnot. A lot of people just don't understand the difference.
I'll try to explain, but first off....have you seen "The Distinguished Gentleman" with Eddie Murphy? The gist of the film is that Eddie' character, Thomas Jefferson Johnson, is a con man and when he learns that his state's Congressman, Jefferson Johnson, has passed away before an election he runs in his place. By just using his middle and last name, the con man gets elected as a Congressman.
I'm not saying that the new TSR or Jr. are con-men, but there is a bit of an analogy. In a real and legal sense companies are basically people. When the old TSR became WotC and then became Hasbro it was more like a name change for a "regular person". Now TSR didn't "die" like Jefferson Johnson did in the movie, but basically its name did. You see TSR and WotC might now be known as Hasbro but in a legal sense they still kept a hold on to their old names. Think of it maybe like someone who goes by one name in High School, another in College, and then another (maybe they got married or something) after college, but when they go "back home"....like maybe a High School reunion, they get called by the old name everyone from back then knows them as. With this analogy, the old TSR that is now Hasbro legally let the old name (Trademarks) "die" so they simply can't go "back home" and let people call them that old name....because somebody else is using it.
Trademarks are basically just fancy names representing a legal entity. When you reserve a trademark, it has to be designated for a specific audience, AND you have to make sure that you protect that name. Simply paying to register one isn't enough. You know how people tend to use Kleenex to describe any facial tissue? Yeah, "we" can do that, but if a company making facial tissues calls their product Kleenex they are getting sued to oblivion because the actual Kleenex has to defend their trademark. Evidently Hasbro, or more than likely Hasbro's legal compliance team, let the various TSR trademarks "die" by not renewing them. Since the legal entity that was TSR became Hasbro and Hasbro still makes RPGs, as long as they maintained (and was willing to defend) the old trademark, it was theirs.
Once they didn't care, those trademarks were up for grabs. Literally that's all this is...a name. No intellectual, or real, property goes with the name. I've seen folks think that just because you now have an older company's legal name/trademarks you have X,Y, or Z from the old company.
Nope.....all you have is a name. In the movie Thomas Jefferson Johnson didn't just "get" all of Congressman Johnsons "stuff" because he now was using the same name. He did get a lot of "stuff", but only because the Congressman's widow gave it all away. Hasbro isn't giving up anything other than some old trademarks.
I wish TSR all the best and I hope the new company works out well for them, but this is not a "re-launch" of an old brand, but a new company using an old name. Don't expect to be getting new reprints of old TSR product or anything......
.......maybe I should have used Face Off for my analogy?