It's hobbit vs. hobbit.
The producers of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit have filed a lawsuit against the makers of an upcoming low-budget flick called Age of the Hobbits, accusing them of creating a "knockoff" movie based on J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy novel and infringing on their trademark on the word "hobbits."
We wonder what Sauron would have to say about this?
Per the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles yesterday—originally reported by The Hollywood Reporter—New Line Cinema, MGM and producer Saul Zaentz is asking a court to take action against Global Asylum, a small B-movie studio specializing in low-budget, typically direct-to-video productions whose look and feel tend to mimic that of Hollywood blockbusters.
According to the complaint, the company "is promoting and advertising its low-budget film using the confusingly similar and misleading title Age of the Hobbits" with the intention of trading on "the popularity and goodwill associated with the Tolkien novels [and] the Lord of the Rings film trilogy," as well as "[diverting] customers and potential customers away from the Hobbit films."
Given all the money expected to be made when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theaters on Dec. 14, it comes as little surprise that the movie's rights holders are looking to protect their property. (One flick to rule them all and in the darkness bind them?)
To do that, the studios and Zaentz are attempting to stop Global Asylum from using the word "hobbits" in the latter's movie. They also want a court to order the company to destroy all infringing ad materials and packaging that they say piggyback on their good name.
For its part, Global Asylum's lawyers fired back, claiming their use of "hobbits" is fair, since it references a term used by archaeologists, not the Tolkien character.
"Age of the Hobbits is about the real-life human subspecies, Homo Floresiensis, discovered in 2003 in Indonesia, which have been uniformly referred to as 'Hobbits' in the scientific community," a rep for the company told the trade.
"As such, the use of the term 'Hobbits' is protected under the legal doctrines of nominal and traditional fair use. Indeed, a simple Google search of Hobbits and archaeology reveals dozens of articles containing the term 'Hobbit(s)' in the title."
Global Asylum has set a Dec. 11 release date for Age of the Hobbits, which per the website for the 90-minute film, is about a "last village of clever, peace-loving Hobbits…attacked and enslaved by Java Men, komodo-worshiping, dragon-riding cannibals."
And perhaps anticipating legal trouble, the company put a disclaimer on the poster which reads: "They're not Tolkien's Hobbits, They're Real."
Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to placate The Hobbit's makers. Attorneys for both sides were unavailable for comment.