Representatives for the estate of legendary author J.R.R. Tolkien filed a lawsuit on Monday against the producer’s behind the much anticipated “The Hobbit,” claiming that they have engaged in unauthorized merchandizing.
The $80 million law suit seeks damages for breach of contract and copyright infringement against both Warner Brothers and Saul Zaentz Company. The estate is claiming that the original agreement allowed the production company to produce only “tangible” merchandise not a “online slot machine” or other digital products that the estate is calling highly offensive.
The estate first learned of the slot machine back in 2010 via a spam email and has since sought legal counsel to determine the scope of the merchandising rights agreement that was made back in 1969. According to the complaint: “The original contracting parties thus contemplated a limited grant of the right to sell consumer products of the type regularly merchandised at the time such as figurines, tableware, stationary items, clothing and the like. They did not include any grant of exploitations such as electronic or digital rights, rights in media yet to be devised or other intangibles such as rights in service.”