In 1969, the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien signed a contract that gave the Saul Zaentz Company rights to license ‘tangible’ Hobbit merchandise. However, Zaentz is now named in a lawsuit, along with Warner Bros, and New Line, over the creation and implementation of an online slots game called “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”
The problem, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is that the defendants of the lawsuit have breached the contract with the creation of the “highly offensive” slots games. The lawsuit says, “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 devices or other intangibles such as rights in services,” The Hollywood Reporter states.
The lawsuit also claims that the conduct of the defendants has “outraged Tolkien’s devoted fan base, causing irreparable harm to Tolkien’s legacy and reputation and the valuable goodwill generated by his works.”
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the defendants to prevent infringement and over $80 million in damages.
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