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Tolkien estate sues Warner Bros. over gambling and games

  • The estate of The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien and publisher HarperCollins have filed an $80 million lawsuit against Warner Bros. Studios over the licensing of characters and plots in online and gambling games derived from the films.

    The lawsuit was filed in a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Monday.

    It alleges that Warner Bros. and its subsidiary New Line Cinema, which owns the merchandising rights to the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit brands, infringed on copyright laws by licensing to casino slot machines, online gambling, games and downloads.

    "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 lawsuit stated.

    The lawsuit comes a week ahead of the New Zealand premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of a new trilogy of films and based on the Lord of the Rings prequel novel The Hobbit.