Earlier this year, the IPKat’s attention was drawn to news that a pub in Southampton called The Hobbit had been threatened with legal action by the Saul Zaentz Company (“SZC”). A division of the Californian based SZC called Middle-earth Enterprises owns rights in J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary works, including The Hobbit. Its licensees include Hollywood names such as Warner Brothers, New Line Cinema and EA (Electronic Arts) but -- before March 2012 -- neither the Southampton publicans nor the pub’s freeholder, Punch Taverns. SZC sought to prevent the Hampshire pub from using the precious name.
|Good news for the pub?|
SZC's Gandalf the Wise
does not have
rights of audience ...
As the IPKat noted in March, SZC have registered HOBBIT as a trade mark in various Classes. A quick search shows it has also registered other marks under
Class 32 Beers; mineral and aerated waters and other non-alcoholic drinks; fruit drinks and fruit juices; syrups and other preparations for making beverages; andThese include GANDALF (Community Trade Mark E6455943 in 2009) and BILBO (UK Trade Mark 2473039 in 2008 with a Community Trade Mark E6460802 also filed). The Southampton pub might consider including provisions within the SZC negotiations for its themed pint-sized cocktails which are named after various characters from Lord of the Rings.
Class 33 Alcoholic drinks (except beers).
This is not the first time SZC has brought hobbit-related actions. In late 2011 it was reported to have demanded that a company that had named its holiday cabins ‘Hobbit Houses’ remove the Tolkienian reference. A Minnesota based company, ‘Hobbit Travel’, which had been operating since 1976 successfully defended a US action against SZC in 2008 and was granted summary judgment on the basis of laches.
A katpat goes to Philippa Malas for preparing this text.