Hobbit Producers Sued by Tolkien’s Estate for $80m Over Slot Machines

Lord of The Rings gambling 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?

Image of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey--The Movie Storybook
Author: Paddy Kempshall
Price: $33.48
Publisher: Mariner Books (2012)
Binding: Paperback, 48 pages
Dean Fetzer

News by Dean Fetzer

Dean Fetzer is originally from a small town in eastern Colorado, but has lived in London, England, for the past 21 years. After a career in graphic design, he started a pub review website in the late 90’s; He left that in 2011 to concentrate on his thriller writing, as well as offering publishing services for authors, poets and artists. When not writing - or in the pub - he can be found in the theatre, live music venues and travelling.

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