The Hobbit studios Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, MGM and producer Saul Zaentz have moved to block the further circulation of Global Asylum’s recently-released Age of the Hobbits film by filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court.
Despite including a disclaimer within the strapline of its film (“They’re not Tolkien’s Hobbits… They’re Real”), Asylum have been accused of “…promoting and advertising its low-budget film using the confusingly similar and misleading title Age of the Hobbits, in an intentional and willful attempt (i) to trade on the popularity and goodwill associated with the Tolkien novels, the extraordinarily successful Lord of The Rings film trilogy, and the famous HOBBIT mark, (ii) to free-ride on the worldwide advertising campaign in connection with the forthcoming Hobbit films, and (iii) to divert customers and potential customers away from the Hobbit films”.
Asylum has based its defence on the theory that its Hobbit characters are based upon the real human sub-species Homo Floresiensis, which are widely referred to within scientific circles as “hobbits”. As such, Asylum claims defence on the grounds of nominal use, namely, that there can be no other way to describe its protagonists than to use the HOBBIT registered trade mark (despite the fact that it highlighted Homo Floresiensis as an alternative name to “hobbit”). Asylum has since made its intention clear to defend itself against the original Hobbitses. There are widespread reports of Age of Hobbits DVDs have entered the market, in spite of a temporary restraining order by the Court.
A Hearing date was set for 28 January 2013, where the District Court was to determine whether a preliminary injunction was appropriate while the two parties shape up to trade blows with oversized, hairy feet during infringement proceedings. (Figuratively).
Watch this space.
Nick Bowie 30 January 2013