This may be a tricky story to cover and I suspect emotions are running high. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson created Dungeons & Dragons. Most people consider D&D to be the original tabletop RPG and Gary Gygax to be its father.
Gary sadly passed away in 2008, he had suffered from strokes in 2004 but his life was blessed with two marriages and six children.
Gail Gygax, Gary’s widow, is the “owner” of the name E. Gary Gygax.
The company behind the new Gygax Magazine, first issue expected in December, is TSR.
But… wait. This isn’t the TSR that was bought by Wizards of the Coast and which previously published Dungeons and Dragons. As it turns out, Wizards of the Coast let the trademark lapse in 2003 (they’re expensive and hard to defend if you’re not using them).
A chap called Jayson Elliot owns the sites. It turns out that he’s not running Gygax Magazine himself, although he’s the editor. Also on the project are Ernie Gygax, Luke Gygax, Tim Kask, James Carpio and Jim Wampler.
Gary Gygax’s gamer sons are on board with the project and, of course, can use their own name for the magazine.
After the news broke that there would be a Gygax Magazine and that some of the Gygax family were involved, Gail Gygax wrote to EN World to say;
I wish to clear up any confusion I am the proper owner of the use of the name of my late husband, E. Gary Gygax. And furthermore would ask respect from his public and children from his first marriage, who are fully aware I own all rights to the use of his name and likeness, and all intellectual properties.
We have previously informed Jason Elliot of my ownership rights.
I can understand the enthusiasm for this project and will remain neutral in regard to its merits however, not at the expense of the Gary Gygax Estate, which represents his wishes.
There’s also the Gygax Memoiral Fund. They’re now involved in the communication around the magazine too. In response to a tweet from David Flor, Dianne Curtis the Coordinator for Educational Programs and Special Projects at the Gygax Memorial fund (and sister-in-law of Gary Gygax) said;
Thank you so much for bringing this project to our attention. We are aware of a group from NYC, which includes Jayson Elliot, that bought the TSR trademark. Not sure if they can legally use it in the way they want to.
In answer to your question, Gail Gygax, Gary’s widow, represents Gary Gygax’s estate, and is the sole owner of all trademark for the name and likeness of Gary Gygax.
With regard to this magazine, we were approached by Jayson Elliott’s group about a year ago and were not interested in a business relationship with them, as they presented no specific business plan for this magazine, yet were requesting use of the trademark. Therefore, this magazine does not have any legitimate endorsement by the representative of the Gary Gygax estate or Gygax family.
As Morrus at EN World notes there is no one using the name “Gary Gygax” in this project. It may be overly simplistic to say the Gary Gygax Estate does not support the Gygax Magazine without knowing who or what exactly the “Gary Gygax Estate” comprises of, their remit and views.
I think the homepage for the Gygax Magazine is telling. There is a trademark sign – and it’s beside the word “Gygax” not “Gygax Magazine”. There’s also a disclaimer that states TSR is the trademark of Hexgonist Publishing LLC and that there’s no association with Wizards of the Coast.
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