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back to article Lawyers of Mordor retreat from The Hobbit

It's doubles all round at The Hobbit boozer in Southampton at the news that the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) has called off the lawyers of Mordor, who were attempting to take down the Portswood pub for trademark infringement. SZC wrote to The Hobbit pointing out it had "exclusive worldwide rights to motion picture, merchandising, …

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Joke

Well

I think what the pub and public has managed to do here no mean feat...

/Gets coat

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the eleventh commandment

"thou shalt not get caught"

they did it to themselves, they did.

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TRT
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Re: the eleventh commandment

Now that the pub has managed to draw so much attention to itself, it can only be a matter of time before the local council inspector appears insisting that he check the premises. Inadequate provision of a secondary fire escape route from the lounge area (cunningly named "Lothlorien") is sure to be a matter that will need to be addressed urgently. Elfen safety is of paramount nowadays.

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Pint

Re: the eleventh commandment

I enjoyed that more than is reasonable, have an e-beer!

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Headmaster

Re: the eleventh commandment

"elven" safety

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TRT
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Headmaster

Re: the eleventh commandment

"elfen"

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/elfen

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Re: the eleventh commandment

I thought first rule of internet posting was never post anything and use a wiki as evidence.

Elven and Elfen were interchangeable if you read the stuff written by Tolkien, as is Ork and Orc.

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TRT
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Re: the eleventh commandment

I'm lazy.

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Re: the eleventh commandment

Or Orc-ward....

OK, I'll get my doublet

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TRT
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Mushroom

And the lawyers...

sit back on their newly expanded hoard of gold, smaug grins on their faces.

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Trollface

Re: And the lawyers...

My precious, its my precious.....

Troll cause, well you know, laywers tend to be hideous and deformed usually anyway

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Pity stayed their hand...

... "Pity we look like a bunch of arrogant and overbearing bastards" thought SZC

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$100?

So if all they wanted was $100, surely an email stating that would have cost less than getting the lawyers involved?

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TRT
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Re: $100?

Or... They could have just given them a ring.

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Re: $100?

For all we know that's exactly what they did. Who can say. You know how effortlessly the internet suspends rational analysis of a situation when it gets a self-righteous bee in its bonnet.

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Re: $100?

Very true...

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@ TRT

SZT thought they had the ring? No wonder they sent the black riders after them.

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Re: @ TRT

Be nice. Nazgul will only attempt to murder you and enslave your soul to Sauron. Completely different from copyright lawyers.

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Re: $100?

No, actually, we know that's *not* what they did.

If you refer, for instance, to the Beeb article on the topic at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-17350103, for example, you'll see the following statement:

"A letter from SZC asked it to remove all references to the characters."

If they wanted a nominal licence fee on an annual basis, they could've easily added "alternatively if you wish to licence the usage of these characters for your premises, you can do so at a fee of $100 per annum, as per the enclosed contract".

IMO, this is a case where they thought they could quietly strong-arm someone into either very expensive renovations or a heavily one-sided legal battle. The unexpected publicity has caused them to reconsider, since they know that they look like money-grabbing parasites. (I'm not saying they *are*, necessarily, since apparently they've held the rights since way back when the animated feature film came out, but I'm betting that comparatively few people will have bothered to do some research into other news stories, the background of the company concerned, or the areas for which they've registered the relevant trademarks...and to those folks who don't do that extra research, it looks more clear-cut.)

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Re: $100?

To be fair, they weren't just calling the pub 'the hobbit' after the novel. They had entirely decorated it, including the sign, with images and posters from the movie.

Try doing that with Disney and see how far you get!

A $100/year license to use all that sounds like a bargain.

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Re: $100?

@YAAC - Disney setting the Gold Standard for Corporate Bellendery Of Intergalactic Proportions doesn't really have anything to do with this though.

Just because Disney are *even bigger* bellends than the crowd involved here doesn't mean bellend-like behaviour has been absent.

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TRT
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"surely an email stating that would have cost less"

Or even a Shadowfax.

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Windows

...Corporate Bellendery...

Another keyboard gone down (via?) the tubes.

Ta Muchly, Captain....oh, not another...SNORT!

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Re: $100?

But that would bind them...

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Vic
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Re: $100?

> surely an email stating that would have cost less

Of course it would.

Asking for a fiver a month is lawyer-speak for "we fucked up and didn't realise how much backlash there would be",

Vic.

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Vic
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Re: $100?

Hmmm.

Rumour Control has it that the pub is currently minded to reject the offer.

My source is not always correct - but often enough that this really worries me...

Vic.

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Double plus bonus!!!

So, for £65-ish they get to keep the images of Frodo, etc, too? What a most excellent result.

Of course the real tipping point was me saying I'd not take the family to see the 2 Hobbit(tm)(r)(p) movies, losing them 10 cinema tickets. Still not gonna go, though, MUHAHAHAH!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Double plus bonus!!!

Does the £65 offer also apply to copywritten Sky and Premier League logos/anthems?

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Mushroom

Re: Double plus bonus!!!

I was going to put off buying the LEGO sets. That's how SERIOUS this got.

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Lawyers, lying lawyers, and more lying lawyers

"The law says that unless you protect your trademark it becomes diluted and you can lose it." whined SZC as though trying to extract actual pity and sympathy out of the situation, like as if they are the victims

"all it ever wanted was a nominal $100 fee" - perhaps if you'd said that up front, all this adverse publicity might have been avoided, but hey whatwould I know

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TRT
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Re: Lawyers, lying lawyers, and more lying lawyers

Send them a letter back suggesting they should bill the pony.

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Re: Lawyers, lying lawyers, and more lying lawyers

Actually, and somewhat bizarrely, that's exactly what trademark law *does* say, at least here in the States. If a trademark owner becomes aware of trademark infringement and fails to take action against the infringer, the trademark owner can lose the trademark.

It's a bit bonkers, really. A little like saying if I become aware that my roommate is stealing my silverware, and I don't boot him out for it, I can never own silverware again.

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Anonymous Coward

Ta Ta Sceptic Tanks

Back over the Atlantic you go

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Terminator

Paying that 'Nominal' £100 could signify some binding contract..

That could come back to bite them. Lawyers are devious like that.

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To paraphrase -

"The law (established by the legal profession) says that you must engage lawyers under a closed shop to persue any percieved infringement in this field no matter how trivial or ill-founded, or lawyers at a later date reserve the right to jeopardize and confiscate your trademark."

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I wonder

Being a cast-iron cynic, could it be that the request for a nominal license fee was the first contact and someone in the discussions said 'how about we whip this up a bit'...promo for the pub, promo for the film...everyone gets their names in the paper and we all shake hands amicably at the end.

Good script for a film there with the ruthless PR bod, the poor humble pub landlord/lady (single-parent family of course for added pathos). Throw in a romance between the PR bod's misunderstood rebel of a child and a local at the pub.

Probably been done before but when did that stop Hollywood.

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Wonder if they backed off the Hungry Hobbit Cafe in Birmingham who got similar letters.

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TRT
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Only a problem...

if they served potatoes... mashed 'em, boiled 'em or stuck 'em in a stew.

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Flame

@TRT

Die in a fire please. Slowly.

I'd forgotten that wretched video until you brought it up. >:(

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"If I’m ever in the neighbourhood I’ll stop in for a drink."

Please do, preferably late on a Friday night. Also please announce who you are and what you tried to do/

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Anonymous Coward

And our culture is sold back to us in $100 slices.

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Sherlock Holmes pub?

Is the Sherlock Holmes pub near Charing Cross Tube station in London still going ? (I've been back in Manchester a few years now and haven't been for ages)

Is that in any danger from money-grabbing demonic lawyers, too? World's gone mad in a handcart.

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Pint

Re: Sherlock Holmes pub?

Yes, certainly as of a couple of years ago at least. They were doing a roaring trade from Japanese and American tourists. Good beer as well, for London anyway.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes pub?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died back in 1930. Copyright on his works expired in 2010. So long as they don't use images or references to films which may still be in copyright then they should be fine.

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"Copyright on his works expired in 2010"

For now. Until Disney get copyright terms extended again to protect the Rat, then Sir Arthur's work goes right back into copyright for the next 500 years.

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Pint

Trademark Law and Public Houses

Two industries where dilution must be prevented at all costs.

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Trollface

What should happen next...

Sir Ian McKellen should insist on the premiere being held in Southampton, with the after-party held at the establishment in question.

(Y'know - just to rub the lawyers noses in it).

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Pint

Check their website thehobbitpub.co.uk

Looks like pretty any other pub, but they did use LOTR movies imagery. All in all a storm in a tea-cup, so to speak.

So I am off. Where to, you might ask. Well... I'm off to open my own Hobbit themed restaurant/bar/pub complete with: Midgets dressed as hobbits and LOTR movie memorabilia hanging from every wall. Interior and exterior designed in old fashioned Hobbit-ville style, complete with rounded doors and low ceilings. LOTR style wands, staffs and weaponry available for the interested. And I only have to pay 100 dollar a year to be able to do this? Where do I sign!?

Seems they don't want to get bad press before the opening of the Hobbit, in my opinion...

"They come in pints?" (beer-icon reference)

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Trollface

Re: Check their website thehobbitpub.co.uk

They come in pints?

I certainly do...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Check their website thehobbitpub.co.uk

You come in pints?

Me, I prefer women.

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