Hobbit Producers Sued by Tolkien’s Estate for $80m Over Slot Machines
A suit alleging "irreparable harm” has been filed against Warner Brothers/New Line and Middle Earth Enterprises by the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien after it came to light that beyond the usual merchandise of figurines and toys, gambling machines have been released which feature characters from The Lord of the Rings.
The $80m (£50m) lawsuit, brought by Tolkien’s estate and HarperCollins, claims the machines and online games that have been created breach the terms of the 1969 limited sale of the film rights, which only included use of characters in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to sell “tangible” things like figurines, clothing and stationery. As electronic media wasn’t even remotely possible, the rights for these things were not part of the original deal.
I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say using the Tolkien brand for gambling machines does “irreparable harm” to said brand. The question I have is: why didn’t they just negotiate the rights instead of wasting everyone’s time with a lawsuit?
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