Volume 16 Published

July 31, 2020
Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation Publishes
Volume 16 of Encyclopædia Iranica

Foundation moving forward independently as it defends brazen attack by Columbia University

New York – The Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation (EIF) today published Volume 16 of the Encyclopædia Iranica, the international, collaborative research project dedicated to the study of Iranian civilization. Volume 16, which covers topics falling alphabetically between KA and KE, is available to the public at iranicaonline.org. It is the first volume to be published by EIF since Columbia University’s brazen August 2019 lawsuit, attacking EIF with false accusations regarding ownership of the copyrights in the Encyclopædia Iranica, which were registered in EIF’s name by Editor-in-Chief Dr. Ehsan Yarshater. EIF filed its own lawsuit seeking to enjoin Columbia from publishing counterfeit fascicles bearing EIF’s federally registered ENCYCLOPÆDIA IRANICA trademark. And as it has done independently for decades, EIF is continuing production of the Encyclopædia as it searches for a new academic partner. Unlike Columbia, which never made any financial contributions, EIF has generated and contributed over $40 million dollars to the production of the Encyclopædia. To supplement the financial support EIF receives from many sponsors, foundations, organizations and individuals, EIF invites the support of scholars and other readers of Encyclopædia Iranica, details below. 

EIF dedicated Volume 16 to the memory of EIF’s president, Dr. Ehsan Yarshater, who created EIF for the purpose of holding title to the copyrights and ENCYCLOPÆDIA IRANICA trademark and trade name. The three fascicles that comprise Volume 16 were the last that he oversaw before his death in 2018. Dr. Yarshater had been the Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopædia for more than four decades. He established EIF in 1990 to ensure the permanent, uninterrupted publication of the Encyclopædia by providing funding through its endowment and donor gifts and by overseeing production and marketing. Dr. Yarshater wanted to ensure that the absolute and unqualified ownership of all aspects of Encyclopædia Iranica’s intellectual property would rest with EIF and specifically denoted that in EIF’s by-laws.

Columbia’s complaint seeks to reap a windfall by gaining control of a publication it had no role in creating and to intimidate the EIF into relinquishing its trademark and copyrights for the Encyclopædia. Columbia wants to shift publication and distribution of the Encyclopædia to the global publisher Brill, an entity rejected by Dr. Yarshater. This move will deprive EIF of its historic responsibility to control the quality of the Encyclopædia and will sharply curtail public access to it. EIF will continue to ensure that Dr. Yarshater’s vision and goals for the Encyclopædia are accomplished, and it does not intend to allow Columbia to bully it into walking away from the responsibilities bestowed upon it by Dr. Yarshater. To do so would allow Columbia to reap where it has not sown and may embolden it to misappropriate the copyrighted work of other professors after they die. EIF will continue to urge the Court not to allow this brazen misappropriation of more than forty years of academically renowned work to which neither Columbia nor Brill has made a single financial or academic contribution.


By publishing Volume 16, EIF begins a new chapter in the production of the Encyclopædia; it will defend itself vigorously as it presses forward with its own complaint against Columbia.

Since its inception in 1990, EIF has legally owned the Encyclopædia’s intellectual property and has contributed more than $40 million to pay staff salaries and carry out the production and publication of the Encyclopædia. As per its by-laws, EIF is solely responsible for selecting, at its own discretion, the institutional base of the Encyclopædia Iranica, whether that is Columbia or any other reputable academic institution. 

Dr. Elton Daniel was approved temporarily by EIF as the Encyclopædia’s interim Editor-in-Chief. However, he resisted EIF’s efforts to control the quality of the publication and he spearheaded a campaign to violate Dr. Yarshater’s wishes by forcing EIF to shift control of the Encyclopædia to Columbia. He also attempted to force EIF to relinquish its financial oversight and transfer its intellectual property rights in the Encyclopædia to Columbia. In retaliation for EIF’s refusal to comply, Columbia misappropriated EIF’s collection of artworks, its library of books, and all EIF’s business and financial records which were stored on Columbia’s premises. When EIF asked Columbia’s president to return EIF’s property, Columbia and Daniel began using EIF’s business records and contractual relationships to create and sell unauthorized versions of the Encyclopædia under counterfeit imitations of EIF’s federally registered trademark ENCYCLOPÆDIA IRANICA. It also threatened to block EIF’s ability to continue the Encyclopædia’s production domestically and internationally.

In August 2019, Columbia sued EIF, accusing it for the first time of falsely claiming to be the copyright owner of the Encyclopædia Iranica, even though Columbia knew that Yarshater had registered the copyrights in EIF’s name. Columbia’s complaint misstates the facts and lacks merit.

EIF filed its own lawsuit against Columbia, Daniel, and Brill, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. A full copy of EIF’s initial complaint can be viewed here. It seeks to enforce EIF’s legal rights and alleges that the defendants have committed trademark infringement, trademark counterfeiting, trademark dilution, conversion, unjust enrichment, and other acts of unfair competition under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1501 et seq., and the New York Unfair Trade Practices Act, tortious interference with contract and prospective economic advantage, as well as other claims under the laws of the State of New York and common law. 

EIF intends to file an amended complaint with the court after it gains access to its documents. The case has been delayed by Columbia’s refusal to comply with a court ordered inventory of the documents and other assets that Columbia and Daniel misappropriated from EIF.

EIF intends to hold Columbia accountable to the wishes of Dr. Yarshater and deny Columbia’s naked attempt to use its power and reputation to take with impunity that which it does not rightfully own.

Support Encyclopædia Iranica

EIF invites the many scholars and other readers of Encyclopædia Iranica to express their support for a freely accessible Encyclopædia by contributing to its production here. All monies raised will contribute directly to the research and publication work undertaken by EIF and available to the public at iranicaonline.org.

About Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation

The Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation was established in 1990 with the mission to ensure the permanent, uninterrupted research and publication of the Encyclopædia Iranica in digital and print versions by providing funding through its endowment and donor gifts.


Steve DiMattia
(646) 695-2881

View a copy of EIF’s initial complaint against Columbia, Daniel, and Brill, filed on September 13, 2019 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York here.