Tolkien Family Sues Warner Bros. Over Merchandising And Property

The JRR Tolkien Family has filed a new lawsuit against the movie producers of the Lord of the Rings franchise. The Tolkien estate claims that Warner Bros. and its partners overstepped their bounds in terms of LOTR merchandising and property.

The lawsuit was filed in a United States district court in Los Angeles on Monday. Working side-by-side with the Tolkien family is publisher HarperCollins. The lawsuit also names New Line and Saul Zaentz Co as defendants.

Not surprisingly, the lawsuit comes just one week after the films Wellington premiere helped drive in $80 million in non-US ticket sales.

The Tolkien family lawsuit is asking for damages alongside an injunction on all games and other products they claim have breached the agreement.

According to the Tolkien estates, its agreement only allows the studio to produce “tangible” merchandise and not other digital works that may be seen as offensive. The lawsuit points to an “online slot machine” as one example of offensive material.

In the lawsuit, the Tolkien’s law team writes:

”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, stationery 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 services.”

The Tolkien family sued Warner Bros. only after learning about the Lord of the Rings slot machine from an email spam they received from the company in 2010.