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Tolkien Estate Sues Warner Bros. For Breaching Contract

The estate of renowned author J.R.R Tolkien and its publisher HarperCollins filed a complaint against Warner Bros. for breaching their contract agreement involving the sale of merchandises based on the famous Lord of the Rings lore.

According to CNET.com, Tolkien and HarperCollins filed Tuesday an $80 million lawsuit in U.S District Court in Los Angeles, asserting that Warner Bros. has no rights to sell Lord of the Rings online games, slot machines, and other items.

The complainants said their current agreement with Warner Bros only allows the entertainment giants to sell tangible merchandize and not digital products. The estate of the author first learned of the alleged contract breach when its lawyer received a spam for the “LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring online slot machine in 2010, prompting them to review the documents if Warner Bros indeed committed a breach of contract by creating and selling products outside the subject of the deal.

“Defendants also have asserted and continue to assert that they have rights relating to a wide variety of goods and services beyond ‘articles of tangible personal property’ and have registered trademarks and/or filed ‘intent to use’ applications in those same categories, including without limitation. hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, ringtones, online/downloadable games, and housing developments — categories of rights which plainly have not been granted to them,” the complaint said.

The Tolkien estate mentioned several items in its complaint, though many believe it’s frustrated on Warner Bros. decision to associate the Lord of the Rings lore twith online gambling.

“Not only does the production of gambling games patently exceed the scope of defendants’ rights, but this infringing conduct has outraged Tolkien’s devoted fan base, causing irreparable harm to Tolkien’s legacy and reputation and the valuable goodwill generated by his works,” the Tolkien estate and its publisher stated in its complaint.