Friday, July 12, 2013

Warner Bros Lawsuit Against Tolkien Estate Gets Green Light

Despite the fame and love many fans have for The Lord of the Rings trilogy and now The Hobbit trilogy, that love does not carry over to the business side. The Tolkien Estate has frequently sued the rights holder of the movies (New Line many times, Warner Bros now) over what it considers disagreeable business practices. In the latest lawsuit, the Estate sued Warner Bros. for $80 million for breach of contract by extending Middle-Earth to the realm of gambling with online games and casino gambling machines. As a result of that, WB then countersued the Estate saying their lawsuit caused them licensing revenue from those gambling deals by suing them. The assumption was that WB wouldn't be able to sue for being sued but it turns out a California federal judge disagrees.

"Simply stated," [U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins] writes, "these claims arise out of the parties' divergent understanding of the Warner Parties' and Zaentz's rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. They are routine contract-based claims and counterclaims."

To not get bogged down in legal jargon, essentially the Tolkien Estate says it is owed money for WB's attempt to enter into licensing agreements for gambling while WB says the Tolkien Estate owes them because those agreements could not move forward. End result is I expect a few lawyers to get hefty bonuses as they play a game of chicken until a settlement is reached that will probably be something to the effect that WB can make gambling games as long as the Estate gets a cut of the earnings.

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