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Tolkien Estate Countersued Over “Lord of the Rings” Slot Machines

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The Saul Zaentz Co. has now filed a countersuit against the Tolkien Estate, whom they believe are objecting to the “Lord of the Rings” slot machines and online games in bad faith.

The counterclaim also argues that the fame generated for Tolkien’s work is “largely the result of the dedicated efforts of Zaentz and its licensees (including Warner Bros.) over the past four decades.”

This follows the lawsuit filed last November by the Tolkien Estate, who alleged that Warner Bros. had infringed upon copyrights and breached their contract via the aforementioned slot machines and online games. The lawsuit accused The Saul Zaentz Co., New Line, and Warner Bros. of, “with increasing boldness, [engaging] in a continuing and escalating pattern of usurping rights to which they are not entitled” in regards to movie related merchandise.

They also claimed that the “Lord of the Rings” slot machines caused “irreparable harm to Tolkien’s legacy and reputation and the valuable goodwill generated by his works.”

“Fans have publicly expressed confusion and consternation at seeing The Lord of The Rings associated with the morally-questionable (and decidedly non-literary) world of online and casino gambling,” the lawsuit read.

The Saul Zaentz Co. argued that the agreements made in 1969 “impose no restriction whatsoever on the nature of the products, services, or businesses with with Zaentz’s and its licensees’ films may be associated, except for a limitation on certain print publications not at issue.”

Additionally, Zaentz and Warner Bros. claim they had been exploiting online video games and gambling for a long time with no objection; and, according to Zaentz, the parties had confirmed the rights to online video games in 1996.

Now, a declaration that Zaentz has the right to use Tolkien motifs in connection with non-“tangible” merchandise – such as hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, ringtones, and more – is being sought.

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5 Comments

  1. victorialadybug says:

    That’s disgusting. I’m sure the man is turning over in his grave.

  2. This is so annoying and quite frankly desperate…

  3. Well the agreement in 1969 may not be a valid excuse. The MMO market back then was pretty dull.

    Speaking as a Vegas native as well, I don’t disapprove of slot machines, as our economy is funded solely on people putting quarters in those. I do however believe Tolkien himself may not have approved of his characters being used to lure people into bankrupting themselves.

    In the end, this just seems as though both sides are trying to milk a man’s hard life’s work into making the most money for them. As it has been stated before, simply disgusting. Let us as fans experience the masterwork that is the whole Middle-earth Legendarium in it’s fullest! Let us walk the halls of Moria, look upon the majesty and wonder of the Argonath. I would love to see the Glittering Caves Gimli raved about so much, witness the gloom of the Dead Marshes and the Battle Plain. But – I don’t want to lose $20 while staring Pippin in the face.

  4. Two words for all parties involved: DRAGON SICKNESS.

  5. From a Lawyer’s View, I saw this coming MILES away. Of course parties Counter-claim! Dragon sickness on both sides, I agree John! Jef Murrary put up a good article on this. Get outraged about the slots, get outraged about the defense of the slots. But make up your mind, “What comes after must come.” “The counsel of Gandalf was not founded on foreknowledge of safety, for himself or for others, said Aragorn”(LOTR p.430) COUNSEL!
    It’s really a laugh to read the Complaints and Counter-Claims themselves on Westlaw. Might make a good legal essay. Prediction: Tolkien Estate settles for $5million, after fees, get $2million, and you all get to admire the heirs jumping from their pools in Beverly Hills, contributing nothing and feeding off this dialectic like vampires. Go on now: “At all times and places the beauty of a Helen or a Cleopatra has lured men to destruction. A beautiful face often masks an ugly soul. And there have always been beautiful but wicked queens, like the White Witchof Narnia or the Snow Queen in Hans Christian Andersen. And also the reverse: someone like Strider, who seems foul yet feels fair…”