Lawyers Threaten A Hobbit

U.S. film lawyers are threatening a copyright infringement lawsuit against a UK pub called The Hobbit.

They’re acting for the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) in California, which owns the worldwide rights to brands associated with author J.R.R. Tolkien, including “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of The Rings.”

“I can’t fight Hollywood,” said landlady Stella Mary Roberts, according to BBC News. “We were absolutely stunned. It was completely unexpected, we never intended to infringe anyone’s copyright.”

She said that changing the name and re-branding the Southampton pub would cost “thousands.”

The Hobbit is a popular students haunt and live music venue, and has traded with the name for more than 20 years.

It features Tolkien characters on its signage, has Frodo and Gandalf cocktails on its menu and has the face of “Lord of the Rings” film star Elijah Wood on its loyalty card.

The lawyers’ letter asked The Hobbit to remove all references to the characters, explaining that its client has “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.”

National pub chain Punch Taverns, which owns the freehold to the building, said: “We are aware of the situation and are currently consulting with our legal advisors.”