Tolkien estate sues over The Lord of the Rings slot machines

If you're a fan of the movies in The Lord of the Rings franchise or the original Tolkien books you might be interested in this report. The estate of the late author has sued Warner Bros. alleging that the movie company is overstepping its rights when it comes to merchandising The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The Tolkien estate is upset over virtual goods.

Tolkien's estate filed a suit against Warner Brothers in Los Angeles District Court earlier this week seeking $80 million in damages. The Tolkien estate is joined in the suit by book publisher HarperCollins in alleging that Warner Bros., New Line, and the rights holder to the movies Saul Zaentz Co have infringed on copyrights owned by the estate and breached contract.

The source of the ire against Warner Bros. comes from the fact that the rights agreement Warner has enables them to create only tangible merchandise based on the books. However, Warner Bros. has apparently launched some sort of online slot machine and other digital offerings that the state finds offensive. The estate says that its attorney learned of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Online Slot Game via a spam e-mail sent to its attorney in 2010.

The estate says that after an investigation into that machine it learned that Warner Bros. is planning traditional slot machines with characters from the books and other products outside the limited original rights deal. The estate and the book publisher are seeking an injunction against infringing games and $80 million in damages. It appears that downloadable video games for mobile devices and Facebook are also being targeted by the Tolkien estate.

[via Hollywood Reporter]