I did a search for the topic, and basically just found a forum post in which a guy claims that he spoke to Jes Goodwin at the Australian Games Day 2012, and that he said that the guy who owned the rights left the company, and reused them in a minor board game around 1989 or so, so GW isn't using Squats again because they don't want to get sued by the makers of a board game so niche that the poster, a board games fan, has never even heard of it, and apparently won't ever turn up in a google search.
Suffice to say, I'm sceptical of the claims. If it were true, then GW would have had to repurchase the rights now that we're seeing the Squats (partially) return, not to mention the snippits of info on them in the rulebooks.
The post is here:
What happened was, during the time period when Games Workshop transitioned from a private to a public company as the owners previously were in the process of selling the company, a bunch of the then designers at the head studio were not pleased with the decision so decided to leave the company. Before Games Workshop became a formalized corporation, when it was a small business, the way copyright on their artwork, books and written materials were not centralized, only that of the miniatures under Citadel, which at the time was a separate company. As in Games Workshop as a company did not hold the rights to all works produced by it's employees, it was at the time owned by it's individual employees - as before that time Games Workshop was simply a chain of brick and mortar hobby stores that sold a broad range of products, Citadel was their only fully owned company at the time.
Part of the process of the selling of the company involved the formal establishment of ownership of copyrighted materials to be added to the ownership of trademarks of all assets that were produced and sold by the members of the company to then be formalized into the whole. That was part of why those designers and artists left, they were upset about this change as they also did freelance work, they didn't like the idea of Games Workshop "owning" their artwork and writings, before then anything to do with Warhammer fantasy and Rogue Trader belonged to the people who created it, not the company, the company only owned the Miniatures. See where I'm coming from here?
The bloke who created the Squats during the Rogue Trader days was one of the people who left GW before the copyright was formalized, so they were unable to get his permission to acquire ownership of the Squats. Jes suggested it was believed by everyone at the time he did this intentionally because he had grown attached to his creation, felt that it was entirely his right to make money from and that GW as a corporate entity had no right to make profits off his creation. The attitude which the members of the studio expressed towards Squats from that point could be seen as a 'knee-jerk' reaction to what that designer who left in a huff did. Which the resulting was the decision to retcon them.
But it didn't end there. Due to the outcry from fans and also the studio staff who themselves liked the idea of Squats and wanted it to be in the game soon after (as in the following few years) decided to approach the wayward designer about acquiring the rights to the squats name, story, lore and appearance.
Unfortunately, by then the person in question had gone ahead and put the squats in another game, using the same name, the same appearance and the same lore for them. Because they had become an official race in another game (which is a steampunk game if I recall him mentioning, can't remember which name of the game it was, he also mentioned good luck to anyone trying to find info on it on the internet as it was a 90s table top board game that sold poorly from a company you've likely never heard of, given that I go to hobby stores on a regular basis outside the scope of Games Workshop's stores and I've seen many different games, I can confirm you will be pressed to find anything about them on a google search, especially stuff pre-dating 2004). the name "squats" had by then been trademarked and the lore and appearance of them copyrighted to another company.
So as a result, it is now impossible for Games Workshop to use the name and the same lore.
For the last 10 years GW designers have at varying times attempted to bring back the Squats under different names and background lore, but each time they have, it has only received cold receptions from the customer base along with themselves having not felt right with the designs, so they never pursued it past conceptual stages, the closest they ever got to it was an experimental shot at them in Battlefleet Gothic.
So that's the whole story and the real truth according to Mr Goodwin.
Why doesn't Games Workshop talk about it?
Because they don't want to get sued, that's why.
Edited by Lord_Caerolion, 25 April 2018 - 10:20 PM.