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Lawyers of Mordor retreat from The Hobbit

Southampton boozer spared legal sword

By Lester Haines, 16 Mar 2012

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, stage and other rights in certain literary works of JRR Tolkien including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit".

Accordingly, it took a dim view of the serving of "Frodo" and "Gandalf" cocktails, and the use Lord of the Rings actor Elijah Wood's face on the hostelry's loyalty card.

"Stunned" landlady Stella Mary Roberts said earlier this week of the threat to The Hobbit: "We don't have the financial resources to fight it – I can't fight Hollywood."

As it turned out, she didn't have to. A Facebook campaign and the support of luminaries such as Sir Ian McKellen – coupled with substantial press coverage – have now apparently prompted SZC to reconsider.

It's insisted that all it ever wanted was a nominal $100 fee for The Hobbit's “unauthorised merchandise” and use of film images, and that the matter can be resolved amicably.

Saul Zaentz told the Southern Daily Echo: "We’re not against these people. I absolutely don’t want to see it closed. If I’m ever in the neighbourhood I’ll stop in for a drink.

"Our intention is not to put any established business out of business. I just don’t want to do that, because people work hard to make businesses successful. We had to do this. We had no choice.

"The law says that unless you protect your trademark it becomes diluted and you can lose it."

A delighted Roberts said: “That’s brilliant. We can’t complain at that. It is such a relief. It has been very stressful not knowing what is going on.

"We have all been upset because we are very proud of what we do here. But the support we have been receiving has been overwhelming." ®

Bootnote

You can blame the interwebs for this whole sorry, and completely unnecessary affair. Zaentz explained: "If it wasn’t for the internet we probably wouldn’t have found out about this pub. They’ve been posting a lot of things recently."