To start, I have an example scene setup illustrating my setup.
I have a round-ended cylinder that I've applied a Simple Deformation to taper it, and then a Curve to make it into a hooked claw or talon shape.
This claw is going to be used 20 times, adding claws to a figure (not included in scene). The claws are to share the same UV map and vertex order, and will share a bunch of other fiddly little shape adjustments. But, if I make a Linked or Object duplicate of the claw and try to translate and rotate the duplicate to where I want one of the finger or toe claws to be, it instead slides along the curve modifier.
I want to have 20 claw objects of various different origin points and XYZ rotations (and scalings!) to all have their curvature driven by one curve object, so that when I adjust curvature, they all stay in sync.
If I bake the curve in by Applying it, I can't adjust the curve any more. I can't bake the curve as a Shapekey, it's not on the top of the stack of modifiers and the Simple Deform: Taper will probably want to be adjusted for different variations of the claw. Anyways, curves/rotations are terrible as shape-keys.
Should I be using another approach? Is there a way to make the duplicates make a real linked duplicate the parent mesh, where the only things I can adjust are the Transforms from the object view?