Thursday March 14,2013 : WARNER BROTHERS COUNTER SUES OVER HOBBITS SLOT CLAIMS (Update)
Estate of late Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien attacked for obstructing online slot licensing deals.
One of the most spectacular and popular online slots ever launched – and withdrawn after a relatively short operational life – is mentioned in litigation between film studio Warner Brothers and the estate of late Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien
The film giant is to launch a counter-suit in responding to an $80 million legal action by the estate last November, which claimed that in the Hobbit trilogy it wanted to ward off a repeat of the studio’s previous overstepping of its rights in extending Lord of the Rings licensing rights to online slot machines.
Warner is demanding damages for alleged breach of contract, alleging that the estate’s action in disrupting licensing to branded slot machines in casinos and arcades, along with online games, damaged the profitability of the first film in the Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which debuted in December last year.
The Guardian quotes from the Warner suit:
"Because of the repudiation, Warner has not entered into license agreements for online games and casino slot machines in connection with The Hobbit – a form of customary exploitation it previously had utilised in connection with the Lord of the Rings trilogy – which has harmed Warner both in the form of lost license revenue and also in decreased exposure for the Hobbit films."
In a growing war of words, the Tolkien estate has accused Warner of bullying tactics, claiming that the film studio is suing the estate because the estate sued them to protect its rights in the Hobbit series.
The estate claims that the Warner allegations are "entirely without merit."
The estate’s legal representative, Bonnie Eskenazi, said in a statement. "The Tolkiens and HarperCollins filed this lawsuit in order to force Warner Bros and Zaentz to live within the boundaries of the contract to which they agreed. Warner and Zaentz’s amended counterclaims are simply an attempt to punish the Tolkiens and HarperCollins for having the nerve to stand up to the studios and tell them that they can’t take more rights than were granted to them by contract. Luckily, the law protects people like the Tolkiens and HarperCollins from these kinds of intimidation tactics."
The reference to Zaentz is in regard to another counter-action over the use of the Hobbit brand.