The Tab has learnt today that our favourite Lord of the Rings themed pub The Hobbit has been threatened with copyright violations over its use of material from the successful trilogy and faces legal action.

The Hobbit’s management were contacted by representatives of the film makers yesterday and told that EVERYTHING in the bar is a copyright infringement. This includes the name of the pub, the titles of the drinks and even the artwork on the walls. After 20 years of business this is the first time that someone has decided to take legal action against the popular Southampton watering hole.

The case has been handed over to lawyers and legal fees are expected to run into the thousands. With many pubs and clubs in Southampton, including the Talking Heads, being threatened by the recession it’s a real shame that The Hobbit faces troubles caused by such a petty issue.

Aragon to become an Arthur?

If a rebranding is enforced, ideas are already surfacing, including changing the name to Camelot and running a Round Table challenge in place of the Fellowship. More details to follow when we know more.

60 Comments »

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  • Frodo Baggins

    They’ve been stealing for 20 years now its time to pay what they owe, and by the time they’re done, I doubt they’ll have enough money to own the pub, let alone rebrand.

    Good riddance.

    Reply

    Bananayz

    Stealing what exactly?? Did they go to the sets and steal props? Copy the movies and sell illegal copies? Torrent it to the internet??

    No?? Well then… All they did was name drinks LOTR themed names and things. To me that’s not stealing.

    I don’t care if the thing says “all places names” ect ect are copyrighted.. it’s bull if you ask me. They just want some easy money, probably planning to make their own super expensive park now and don’t want things like this around.

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    Bret Ware

    Alas, the Tolkien Trust sold rights for ‘The Hobbit’ to New Line Cinema quite some time ago and the pub has been using the copyrighted material without consent, enjoying financial gain, which includes the names of characters and general folklore; that means the court case has significant tenure. Regardless of the legal situation, I’d hate to see The Hobbit rebranded – it’s a significant Soton landmark and it’d be a pity to see it change. Let’s hope the case doesn’t start until after the movie comes out – I plan on getting royally drunk (again) in The Hobbit that day.

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    Mike Smith

    I would just like to point out that New Line Cinema are nothing to do with this at all, the rights are owned by Saul Zaentz and he is the one taking legal action, via his company.
    The confusion comes where Zaentz essentially leased the rights of the Lord of the Rings franchise to New Line when they made the films.
    Zaentz owns the company Tolkien Enterprises, but this is, in turn, nothing to do with the Tolkien Estate.
    It is not a case of the pub using the name without consent, the name has been there to pay homage to a great work of literature, not to ‘piggyback’ on the success of another. If anything, it is free advertising for that to which Zaentza owns the rights.

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    Bret Ware

    My mistake, I thought the Zaentz/New Line dispute was over. Regardless, I hope Zaentz doesn’t get to enforce his claim over the Hobbit franchise.

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    Hannah

    And of course I’ll join you ;) …eugh this is such crap news:( first my fave local of a lifetime at home changed hands (no longer the same) …now the Hobbit too??! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if it aint broke don’t fix it! The copyright is unfortunate, and wrong (if what you say is true), yes, but what these bigwigs in suits fail to take into account is peoples happiness. But sadly we live in a world where money is seemingly more important. We can only hope that they realize the (sentimental) -priceless- value of such a place to so many people. :/

    Reply

    Tommy

    booooooooooo!!! do one you arsehole!!

    Reply

    smeagol

    Troll *yawn

    Reply

  • jack

    After a quick google search, i found a small cafe called the hungry hobbit which received one of these letters in november. They might be worth contacting to see what became of it.

    Reply

    Rory

    i live round the corner from the cafe and its still trading as the hungry hobbit. not sure whether they will be changing name in the future or not…

    Reply

  • harry

    good old US movie industry, i’d like to see how they lose any money from people naming cocktails after characters from a book.

    AMERICA. FUCK YEAH.

    Reply

  • Bridget Clay

    One time on a rowing social we got the funnel out and they told us to either put it away or leave, saying “we try to maintain an element of decorum here”. Barrel of laughs that place

    Reply

    Bilbo Baggins

    Boat wankers

    Reply

    beepbeepbeep

    Are you kidding me?! They’re being a responsible venue, unlike ones which allow funnels etc and you’re bitching about them why exactly? I don’t know many venues that allow funnels apart from irresponsible craphole venues.

    Reply

    james

    Would tht be a sly way of saying Jesters?

    Reply

  • steve

    what a f**kin joke!

    Reply

  • Brian

    That’s the rub about Trademarks. If you have one you MUST attempt to enforce it regardless of how it might appear draconian, otherwise you might lose the rights to it. This isn’t personal, it’s simply the way the law works.

    Reply

    Andy

    Isn’t there some rule about limitations ie. you have to enforce it quickly and not wait 30-40 years after the pub opened to get angry about it?

    Reply

  • Rory

    A past it punk barman once told me to go to a different pub after I asked what pints they recommended at the Hobbit, a pub I regularly went to and felt a part of. Never went again. Judgmental douche bag. Shame really.

    Reply

  • Spydahyda

    Its stupid really because thats the way the pub has always been. I like the fact it was lotr theme and a frodo was just what was needed after a heavy night out. Theyre not hurting anyone nor making money off it anyway. There are plenty more pornos with more rip offs than this bar. I can’t know the place any different.

    Reply

  • Blah

    What!? But the Hobbit is awesome! If anything they’re promoting the films and everyone loves extra publicity. Stupid, fat industry peoples-es stealing our precious from us. I vote a petition or a march or something.

    Reply

    Hobbit Veteran

    That will be Aidy then! lol! Your too easily offended!

    Reply

  • The lord of the round metal object

    If The Hobbit has been there for 20 years then it was there well before the films makers even claimed the Trademark! Unless this law suit is coming from J.R.R Tolkein from beyond the grave it is worthless.

    Reply

  • Rowan Smith

    This has nothing to do with Tolkein’s estate, it’s Saul Zaentz (the man who aquired the rights to the names in the 70′s) and his lawyers.

    Reply

  • Name

    For those who tweet: #savethehobbit

    Reply

  • The Shire

    Bit unfair blaming Tolkien when he’s been dead for 40 years (thanks wikipedia)

    Reply

  • JR

    This will never stand up in court for the following reasons:

    The Hobbit (and all stuffs therein) clearly do not impact in a negative way on either The Hobbit as a trademark, Tolkien (and his beneficiaries), The Lord of the Rings (as a trademark) or the various distributors, producers and other related companies involved with the making of either Lord of the Ring or The Hobbit films.

    The Hobbit is clearly intended to be a well-meaning and good-spirited theme bar promoting Tolkien’s Work and is not in any way derogatory or with malicious intent or with intent to deprive the above of revenue.

    None of the characters’ names in the book are copyrighted and so therefore not subject to copyright.

    Basically, the movie studios are being wankers.

    I would suggest that the Proprieter of the Pub contact Tolkien’s Son and sort it out with him.

    Reply

  • Bill Sich

    I propose we all gather at the pub and prepare for a Helm’s Deep-esque siege for when the bailiffs arrive.

    Reply

  • Gandalf

    They shall not pass.

    Reply

  • peter shittingson

    Why don’t they just call it the Hubbit and call the aragon the arugan. in short, fuck copyright bullshit. Greed gone mad!

    Reply

  • smeagol

    Stupid horrible Scott Millses talking about the nasty Hobbit lasts fortnight on national radios has caused its!

    Reply

  • Muhammad of Ulaanbaatar

    invite the lawyers to the hobbit one night. challenge them to do the double fellowship, if they can walk out without wearing their chunderpants, then they can legally rape the pub in whatever way they want…if not, then they can fuck off.

    then again, one does not simply walk out of the hobbit.

    Reply

  • David

    I can’t see the judge taking this seriously. In the UK you have to prove damages, they are not statutory like in the US. Is some really going to convince a court that the pub has caused them to loose? Maybe if they owned some pubs or was a major retailer in that sector but not because of one film. The time it has taken them will also be critical in this case. If the pub can prove the knew about the place over 6 years ago although the infringement is alleged to be ongoing they will be asnwering why it has taken this long.

    Reply

  • Lydia

    the film producers dont have any power, the right to the lord of the rings and the hobbit belong to Tolkein, who is deceased. seeing as the pub was there before the movies thery weren’t violating copyright laws because they hadn’t been written yet!

    Reply

  • Olly Thomas

    Frankly, this is horseshit.

    The idea that the pub has been “stealing for 20 years”, as ‘Frodo Baggins’ (copyright violation!) claims would only make sense is if they’d ever actually hyped themselves internationally as a Tolkein-themed pub. Granted, it’s nearly ten years since I lived in Southampton, but that never seemed to be the case back in the day. It was just a good name for a student pub.

    I’m no expert on the law, but this pub was called The Hobbit when nobody beyond absolute nerds (and certainly no American film studios) cared about the works of JRR Tolkein. This lends credence to the idea, expressed by other comments in this thread, that its use of the name has had nothing but a positive effect, by keeping the name and concept alive.

    I’d be interested to hear whether anyone actually made a pilgrimage to Southampton to drink in what they thought was an official Tolkein theme pub. Surely their main draw is having one of the few large beer gardens in town?

    By the way, ‘Frodo’, your superior tone is 100% abhorrent. You’re not defending intellectual property, just the desire of wealthy film studios to throw their weight around.

    Reply

    Figwit

    This sounds like the work of Wormtongue

    Reply

    Figwit

    comment fail, wasnt meant as reply

    Reply

  • Mouth of Sauron

    In short, if someone walks past any employee or lawyer for NLC humming any part of the Soundtrack to LOTR, they’re liable to be sued for copyright infringement.

    If that’s supported by law, I don’t want to abide by the law.

    Reply

  • fey

    it’s just a homage. companies always bleed people dry for the sake of a little bit of money.

    Reply

  • Stuart

    I don’t think they really have much of a case to answer, however of course the Hobbit pub clearly doesn’t have the resources of Saul Zaentz and he knows this. They will probably have to concede by virtue of the escalating legal costs rather than the actual real threat of losing the case.

    Why do I say this? Because it’s not copyright infringement – well the logo on the pub might be, but realistitcally it is actually Trade Mark infringement which could be argued. But unless they are selling 4′ hairy guys called Frodo for whatever a Frodo costs these days, I somehow find it unlikely they’d be able to convince a judge that there is any confusion.

    Sure they’ need to repaint a few beams to remove a couple of quotes, but that isn’t a massive problem.

    Reply

  • Hannah

    This is as silly as getting sued for calling your three legged cat, Legolas.

    Reply

  • Figwit

    This is all Isildur’s fault.

    Reply

  • omgffs

    Oh dear. It seems one does not simply name a pub after anything the bloody americans are likely to turn into a film.

    I hate this. Expect massive amounts of frivolous cases when they make one called”The Red Lion” right?

    Reply

  • Chris Baker

    Presumably The Shooting Star will be sued into oblivion for having the tenacity to name their cocktails after the titles of famous films. The horror.

    Chris “YOU HAVE MY SWORD” Baker

    Reply

  • Mrs Portswood

    I wonder if this is cost effective promo for the film? It’s not expensive to research Hobbit related businesses etc. and send them a letter. Then everyone screams about it. Free publicity. Yup. It’s all about the word of mouth.

    Reply

  • Bridget Clay

    Surprised by how many people are bothered about this.. hobbit is alrite with a large group of people and the pint cocktails are cool, but on the whole it seems to be a depressing version of jesters frequented by gremlins and goths with some pretty rude bar staff. Not going to miss it tbh

    Reply

    outraged steampunk

    Jesters is a manky, sticky floored cesspool of grimness.

    Reply

    james

    Actually, I believe more people enjy the atmosphere in the Hobbit, than Jesters. At least you don’t have to hold your breath to avoid puking, and can enjoy a (quiet) pint while still sober!

    Reply

  • Muhammad of Ulaanbaatar

    we could organise a boycott of all LOTR material, and organise a big book burning, no korans please.

    i propose we do NOT put chloe green in charge of this seeing as her bitching and whining about boycotting kit kats made her public enemy #1. i think top cat would be a better shout.

    Reply

    Constantin

    Do never burn books. Besides, the books have nothing to do with this.

    Reply

  • richard

    the pub has been around longer then those shitty films. fucking ridiculous.

    Reply

  • outraged steampunk

    Are you bloody kidding me?! Are they seriously going to be that petty?! They really want to ruin so many happy memories for their own wallets?
    stupid question really. They make Gollum look like a ray a bloody sunshine!

    Reply

  • Ellen

    Just looked up the word hobbit exists in dictionary, so if it’s a word can they really hold the pub for copyright? Maybe they can’t display film memorabilia (don’t alot of pubs and restaurants from other films?!) going to call my dogs puppies characters from the film now!!

    Reply

  • Cave Troll

    They have been profiting on the back of someone else’s intellectual property. Just because it is a small business does not mean that the law does not apply.

    Reply

  • Ally

    The pub has been there way longer than some crappy Hollywood movie. It’s not doing anyone any harm so just leave them alone I say.

    Reply

  • Emily Joyce Quailstorm

    STOP DELETING MY POSSTS IM HORNY

    Reply

  • Wolfie Cullen

    There was a case in the past of a video hire shop in Gosport called Blockbusters. When the American company Blockbuster Video came over to the UK and heard about them, they took the shop to court to make them stop using the name. The judge told them that as they had been using the name for years they could carry on using it and told the American company to leave them alone. Let’s hope that the judge in the pub’s case has the same common sense and lets the pub carry on.

    Reply

    PW

    IF they have to rename the pub (don’t see why they should) they should call it ‘The Dark Elf’ or one of the other names that Tolkien borrowed from Scandinavian mytholgy. JRR also enjoyed many holidays in Dorset and a thousand years before he got there, there was a landowner called Orc in the area – so maybe they could use that name instead!

    A few months ago in a BBC drama series they referred to The Hobbit? Wonder if they asked permission from Saulron? Also weren’t there LOTR references in one of Simon Pegg’s films? Did he get permission?

    I just came home to catch the end of South Today this evening to hear of a petition against this threat of legal action against the pub. Where do I sign?!

    As I understand it, in the US you cannot copyright the title to any film so lots of movies could be made with the title ‘The Hobbit’ where’s the harm in using this name for a British pub?

    Reply

  • adi

    i fail to see why the action is standing when a hobbit is ficticious and a has person like appearence, when the hobbit pub is a building and no relation.When was the first film published? was the pub already named then the pub could sued the usa infringement. Stupidity anything can be copyright then be sued. lets start looking at usa are they so perfect i think not.

    Reply

  • Elizabeth Coates

    Twenty years after opening? Eight years before the first film?

    Who is stealing now?

    Reply