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Chaosium's Cthulhu license?

Started by Robert Bohl, July 31, 2009, 05:26:03 PM

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Robert Bohl

Hey folks,

I've heard rumor that Chaosium claims to be able to license the word "Cthulhu" for use in role playing game publications. Is that true? Given that HPL's shit is all public domain, how can that be true? Any ideas?
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Adam Dray

I read somewhere that not all of the Lovecraft stuff is PD, only the earlier work. There's an avenue for further research.
Also, this is a trademark issue, not a copyright issue, right?  Who owns the trademark on "Cthulhu," if anyone?
Also, ask a lawyer.
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Seth M. Drebitko

Well as to Chaosium's claims it is doubtful claiming public domain as a trade mark seems possible on paper but personally I would be willing to take my chances in court. As to the claims of all of love crafts work not being in public domain that is bull. Arkham publishing claims to hold copyrights based on a transfer from the will. The trick is professionals have searched the for the copyright renewals and none have been found. On top of this two key factors imply that Arkham has no rights to Cthulhu:

1. Arkham claims to have documented proof showing claim to their rights but refused to release the information.
2. Chaosium stopped paying royalties to Arkham quite awhile ago and no legal repercussions have since occurred.

So with that as always on the forge the only thing that can really be advised is that for the most part none of us are professional lawyers so your best bet check with a lawyer.
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Ron Edwards

Seth, can you provide any links that lead to real documentation for what you're describing?

Best, Ron


Perhaps you could ask the folks who publish the Cthulhutech RPG?

Seth M. Drebitko
  I had previously read a different article that I can not find this after a quick skim it looks to have all of the same content. Also another point I should have specified is that it is possible to make trade mark of a title used for a book and things like that, which would be ligament for Chaosium to claim a title. You could not be stopped from using Cthulhu in your works though.
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Ron Edwards

All right, the relevant documentation is located. I think this thread has served Rob's purpose. It's barely on-topic for the site anyway, so I am calling it closed to further posting. Rob, if there is a special reason why you think it should stay open, send me a private message.

Best, Ron