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Heroquest IP history


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So, I'm totally new to Runequest and posted a video with an unboxing in which I erroneously implied that MB Heroquest is connected to the Heroquest RPG. I just assumed they were because how could two companies use the same name for products?

How is it that Chaosium has Heroquest RPG and MB published a completely unrelated board game with the same name? How did the copyright/trademark shake out on that?

Thanks in advance for the history!

Edited by klecser
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Greg Stafford used the term Heroquesting to describe the activity where adventurers enter the world of myth very early, and HeroQuest was always the proposed name for the game that would handle this, listed regularly in the forthcoming products at the back of RQ products in the 70s and 80s and in discussions on various zines. But with no product there was no trademark.

Games Workshop produced a board game Heroquest in conjunction with Milton Bradley in 1989, far later.

This always irked some.

They let the trademark lapse, and when this happened Greg picked it up. As the game Hero Wars was entering a new edition, and was the first Gloranthan game to properly include heroquesting, Greg trademarked the name HeroQuest for his new version of that game.

Some felt this was just.

There have been some attempts to produce new versions of the MB game, but they always hit the issue of who now owns the trademark as a result.

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3 hours ago, Ian Cooper said:

There have been some attempts to produce new versions of the MB game, but they always hit the issue of who now owns the trademark as a result.

Moon Design own the trademark, Hasbro own the game copyright.

From the Chaosium Fan-Use and Licensing Q&A

https://www.chaosium.com/fan-use-and-licensing-q-a/

Quote

 

Q: I want to see the Milton Bradley HeroQuest board game back in print - what is happening with that?

A: We know there are a LOT of fans of the Milton Bradley HeroQuest board game that is now owned by Hasbro. We have absolutely nothing against that boardgame. We would be pleased to see it back in print, and under the right circumstances we would be very happy to license our HeroQuest trademark to the company that produces it.

If you are keen to be that company, please be aware that there is one issue beyond our control: while we (Moon Design Publications) own the Trademark for the name "HeroQuest", Hasbro owns the copyright for the game "HeroQuest".

We do not own the copyright to the original boardgame, its rulebook, its miniatures, the board, etc: Hasbro does, and (as far as we know) Hasbro has shown no interest in reprinting it, or allowing another company to do so.

We are not going to do anything in terms of licensing our Trademark for the name "HeroQuest" unless Hasbro gives their permission to use their HeroQuest related copyrighted material. Thus far, Hasbro has NOT given anyone permission to reprint their game. By permission, we mean in writing, via a contract. Licensing intellectual property isn't done via a phone call or some quick chat. It is done via legally binding contracts if it is to be done professionally and according to the law. As soon as any game company has a license from Hasbro to use their HeroQuest game related intellectual property we will be very happy to enter discussions with that company about licensing our Trademark for the name "HeroQuest".

 

 

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Everything David Scott has mentioned is true. Here's a bit more info for those who are interested:

In 1979 Chaosium announced in the back of the RQ2 rulebook that they were working on a version of RuneQuest called HeroQuest: An FRP game wherein the mighty of Glorantha may enter into the lands of legend and myth, penetrating the immortal stories to participate in the Gods War, fight against chaos in the Great Darkness, or aid in the trials of the Lightbringers or the Protectors. A revolutionary concept and approach to myth, magic, and role-playing. By the Chaosium.

Over the next few years the game would inevitably be listed in various issues of Wyrms Footnotes as a "Next Year" publication in their "In the Works" column. In Wyrms Footnotes 10 (Fall 1980) it appeared in the "rumored" section with the following description: As the next major step beyond the Rune Levels, Heroquest adventures take place on the Hero Plane. Game mechanics are slowly being tested as written. The feeling here though, is that we could get it out soon, or we could get it out right. Right now, we're shooting for a 1981 release. The general notion of what the game would do never fundamentally changed from being a high-powered version of RQ, but the descriptions in Wyrms Footnotes kept evolving. In WF11 it was in the "planned" section with: A game where honor, truth, courage, and respect all come into play when the brave attempt the paths of the Hero plane in this game of myth and legend. Riddle with the Trickster, duel with the gods of war, and discourse with the winds. Gain gifts greater than treasure and explore the mysteries of the universe. In WF 14 it shifts again to: This is a game of adventure in the realm of the gods and heroes of Glorantha. A Heroquest is a journey made by mortals to establish themselves in the pantheons of the gods. Travel along established routes or forge a trail of your own, but the farther you get from known ways the more dangerous the adventure. However, fabulous treasure and superhuman skills are the rewards of success; death and a loss of free will are the costs. Rules linking this game to RuneQuest will also be included as well as a HeroQuest character sheet, sample journeys, encounter charts, monsters, and an assortment of stats on gods and other heroes.

The game never came out. Greg kept working on it. Fast forward to 1989. Milton Bradley and Games Workshop jointly published HeroQuest, a boxed adventure board game with miniatures. The generic fantasy game had nothing to do with Glorantha or RuneQuest. I interviewed Greg about this a few years ago and he was surprised they had used the name, but there was nothing Chaosium could do about it. You can't copyright a totally unpublished manuscript. Copyright is not the same as trademark, and you can't easily trademark an unpublished game, especially one that kept getting delayed. Games Workshop applied for the Trademark in 1989, and it was granted in 1992. The boardgame went out of print by 1997 and the Trademark lapsed in 1999 when it was not renewed. When Greg found out the trademark had lapsed he applied for it in 2001, was granted it in 2002, and started using in in 2003. Moon Design Publications is the current holder of the HeroQuest Trademark, having purchased all of Greg's Glorantha/RuneQuest/HeroQuest IP a few years ago. Most Trademarks have a 10 year life span, although they can be renewed easily if the trademark is still in active use. When Greg first published Hero Wars in 2000 he had already spent quite some time working on it and had already decided on its name. That early on he never thought the HeroQuest Trademark would ever be available again. The Milton Bradley HeroQuest boardgame series had be very popular and successful. 

Suffice it to say that HeroQuest the RPG and HeroQuest the boardgame have been the subject of confusion for many. Every now and then we get emails from enthusiastic fans of the boardgame that ask us about our HeroQuest game, ultimately to get an answer that disappoints them. The technical term the US Patent and Trademark office uses for this situation is "brand confusion". 

Edited by Rick Meints
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/9/2019 at 2:06 AM, Rick Meints said:

The technical term the US Patent and Trademark office uses for this situation is "brand confusion". 

Do Moon Design and / or Chaosium have the Trademark in both the US and EU (including UK)? Last I remember (a long time ago, so likely has changed), Hasbro still had the trademark in some countries.

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36 minutes ago, Rick Meints said:

Hasbro UK filed for the HeroQuest Trademark in the UK in 1988, and it was registered in 1991 or 1992 (depending on the class of goods). It isn't up for renewal until 2025. 

 

How does that effect HQ RPG products in the UK? Do they need to be re-branded or is there some sort of arrangement?

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1 hour ago, Hteph said:

I really want to hear what Chaosium et alhas to say about it....

I imagine the substance of what they're saying is privately, to Hasbro.

Public announcements will come when the parties have reached an agreement.

For all we know, Chaosium is licensing the term back to Hasbro -- or selling outright -- and settling to "Questworlds" as their branding for the line as they move forward...

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Another factor (and a telling one, IMHO) -- MOB is encouraging everyone who is thinking about taking advantage of the current HQ sale to do so "sooner rather than later."

I would say that places the writing pretty clearly on the wall.

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On 4/17/2019 at 12:27 PM, Rick Meints said:

Hasbro UK filed for the HeroQuest Trademark in the UK in 1988, and it was registered in 1991 or 1992 (depending on the class of goods). It isn't up for renewal until 2025. 

 

Does this mean Hasbro doesn't have the right to release Heroquest in the UK with their new campaign?

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