Two Tolkien estate stories in one day? Are they trying to steal Beyonce’s thunder or something?
Previously, the estate of author J.R.R. Tolkien estate and book publisher HarperCollins were suing Warner Bros., New Line, and Rings/Hobbit rightsholder Saul Zaentz Co. for overstepping their merchandising rights with online Hobbit and Lord of the Rings slot machines. Now we find out Saul Zaentz Co. is countersuing. Why? They claim they are the ones responsible for the franchise being so popular, specifically saying the success is “largely the result of the dedicated efforts of Zaentz and its licensees (including Warner Bros.) over the past four decades.”’
The company says the initial contracts did not limit the type of products that could be produced, even though it was struck in 1969 and they had no idea about the internet. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Zaentz also says that it and Warners have been exploiting online video games and gambling without objection for a long time — and that in 1996, the parties confirmed rights to online video games.”
Now for those of you who thought a Middle-Earth theme park would never see the light of day due to Tolkien estate objections, I’m sorry, but they’re one step closer.
The website Tolkien Brasil has a copy of records from the U.S. Patent Office which show Zaentz has applied for a word mark on “Middle-Earth” as it relates to a few specific items. Namely:
Amusement arcades; Children’s entertainment and amusement centers, namely, interactive play areas; Entertainment in the nature of an amusement park ride; Entertainment services in the nature of an amusement park show; Entertainment services, namely, arranging for ticket reservations for amusement park attractions; Providing theme park services.
It also includes campgrounds, travel tours, and resorts. This still doesn’t mean anything is set in stone of course, and we still have no official statement from those involved, but it looks like a Lord of the Rings-inspired theme park is that much closer to reality.