4 July 2017Copyright

Warner Bros and Tolkien estate resolve $80m copyright suit

Warner Bros and J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate have resolved a five-year dispute over “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”.

The parties filed a stipulation to dismiss the case on Friday, June 30, at the US District Court for the District of California.

The dispute arose in 2012 when Tolkien’s estate and book publisher HarperCollins alleged that Warner Bros had infringed their copyright by breaching an agreement.

In 1969, Warner Bros bought film rights to the two titles which gave it limited merchandising rights.

According to the complaint, these rights did not include any grant of rights allowing Warner Bros to exploit digital or electronic rights.

But Warner Bros later developed and sold downloadable video games based on the two books, both written by Tolkien.

The suing parties said in their complaint that Warner Bros had also registered trademarks over rights which had not been granted to it.

“Plaintiffs never agreed to grant defendant unlimited and infinite rights to exploit The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit generally and in perpetuity,” they said.

In the initial complaint, the suing parties claimed that they should receive damages of up to $80 million.

But following the settlement, both parties agreed that they would not receive any fees or costs.

They want the case to be dismissed with prejudice.

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