A judge just gave one party the upper hand in this big Hollywood legal battle.
Last year, we reported that the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, had filed a lawsuit to the tune of $80 million against Warner Bros., the studio producing the Hobbit films, claiming that the studio not only owed the estate money from "intangible merchandising" like ringtones, Facebook games and more, but that it had sullied Tolkien's good name by producing things like online slot machines to tie in to the film's release. Earlier this year, Warner Bros. fired back with counterclaims of its own, claiming that the suit from the Tolkien estate had compromised the studio's rights to The Hobbit and cost them millions when they had to abandon a licensing agreement with an online gambling company. The Tolkien estate retaliated with their own motion asking the judge to strike the Warner Bros. counterclaims down. So, what next?
Well, this week U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins denied the Tolkien estate's motion to dismiss Warner Bros.' counterclaim to the lawsuit, clearing the way for the studio to go after the estate with its legal guns blazing in an effort to get back some of the money it claims to have lost as a result of the initial suit.
“Discovery is already underway and we hope to see further developments soon,” said Daniel Petrocelli, who is representing Warner Bros. in the case.
So, while hope is not lost for the Tolkien estate, it looks like Warner Bros. is about to unleash some serious legal firepower on them. We'll keep an eye out for what happens next.