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D&D lawsuit: The new TSR declares bankruptcy, pausing court case

A trial had previously been set for October

Three clowns stand should-to-shoulder, with barely a whisker betwixt their enormous shoes. They seem to be clothed in rags made from discarded circus tents. Two hold firearms, while the smallest readies a spell. Image: Scott Murphy/Wizards of the Coast
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Lawsuits pending between Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast and a newly formed TSR are on pause as of June 12. That’s because TSR has filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy — that is the liquidation of the company’s property. Such a filing triggers an automatic “stay,” which is a pause on any other legal proceedings involving the company. Nevertheless, TSR’s website remains online and the company appears to be accepting orders for its products. Polygon has reached out to TSR’s bankruptcy lawyer for comment.

TSR was originally founded in 1973 by Gary Gygax and Don Kaye. The company was purchased in 1997 by Wizards of the Coast. The newly formulated TSR is owned by budding game publisher Justin LaNasa, a resident of North Carolina. He’s best known for a chain of tattoo parlors — and also for a failed political campaign complicated by reports that he once asked several female employees to wrestle in a tub filled with warm grits.

The new TSR initially filed suit against Wizards of the Coast in December 2021, claiming that Wizards had abandoned multiple trademarks and copyrights related to its purchase of TSR. Wizards is countersuing TSR and LaNasa, personally, for trademark infringement, cybersquatting, and more.

In September, Wizards made the unusual request that a judge prevent TSR from publishing a role-playing game that it said was, in addition to being based on trademarks in dispute, filled with “blatantly racist and transphobic” content.

Documents filed in North Carolina paint a grim picture for TSR. They show gross revenue for the first 23 weeks of the year of just $621.93. Total liabilities — which include money owed to LaNasa himself, as well as another of his businesses, plus legal fees — total $384,941.99.

A trial date for both lawsuits had previously been scheduled for October, but a judge for the U.S. District Court in Seattle postponed it until March 2024. It’s unclear if that date will be moved once again when the bankruptcy proceedings are completed and the automatic stay is lifted.

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