The estate of famed author J.R.R. Tolkien has launched a lawsuit along with the publishers HarperCollins against Warner Brothers for the illegal use of characters and plots from the Lord of the Rings slot game.
The lawsuit, believed to be worth around the sum of eighty million dollars, was filed in the Los Angeles US District Court this week. The main focal point of the lawsuit is that Warner Bros (whose subsidiary New Line Cinema – who produced the three Lord of the Rings movies) has illegally profited by selling on the rights to the characters and plots from them to online gambling companies to produce the slots. It is believed that the rights to the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (an upcoming movie trilogy, the firs which is to be released in November) were for movie and merchandise only, and that gambling games were not considered a part of that deal.
The Tolkien estate and HarperCollins have both insisted that by creating online and mobile gambling games revolving around Tolkien’s two greatest works of literary fiction, Warner Brothers have stepped outside of what their merchandising license entailed.
The Hobbit tells the tale of Bilbo Baggins who travels to the Misty Mountains in search of adventure and treasure and his finding of a ring of power. Its successor, the three part Lord of the Rings, tells the tale of Bilbo’s heir Frodo Baggins and his companions as they attempt to cast the fabled Ring of power back into the fires of Mordor to stop the reign of an evil army in a fictional world of Middle-Earth.
The novels were written in a way that one might almost believe (if one was inclined) that they took place in a dark age of man’s history. The two works are some of the most successful novels ever written, and have a huge drawing even unto today, some fifty years after Tolkien finished writing them. The novels have also spawned two film trilogies which grossed over $2.92 billion worldwide, costing only $281 million to make.
The gambling games are said to not only infringe the merchandising rights acquired by Warner Brothers but also to cause insult and damage to the reputation of the Tolkien estate, and the reputation of the now deceased dear author.
Both HarperCollins and the Tolkien estate are seeking $80 million in damages from the gambling games, the most popular of which is a Lord of the Rings slot produced by Microgaming.
The premier of the first of the new Hobbit films is premiered this week in New Zealand (where the movies are filmed) which a general release of the movie announced for December 13th at midnight. The movies are expected to be hugely successful, perhaps more so than the original Lord of the Rings movies which were released from 2001 to 2003.