The Tolkien estate, which handles the licensing and the proper use of the Lord of the Rings franchise, is suing video game publisher Warner Bros., claiming that the company has breached their agreement and is seeking no less than 80 million dollars (627 million Euro).
The documents, as quoted by IGN, are part of a lawsuit filed with the United States District Court in Los Angeles and Harper Collins, the book publisher that has the rights to the Lord of the Rings series, is also involved and claims that Warner Bros. has used the IP for other purposes than originally agreed.
The infringing game is The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring: Online Slot Game, which was launched back in 2010 and which allows players to enjoy a simple game of slots with a skin that uses characters from the classic book series.
The lawsuit states: “The original contracting parties thus contemplated a limited grant of the right to sell consumer products of the type regularly merchandised at the time (such as figurines, tableware, stationery items, clothing and the like.”
It adds, “They did not include any grant of exploitations such as electronic or digital rights, rights in media yet to be devised or other intangibles such as rights in services.”
Apparently, Warner Bros. had plans to launch more slot games based on The Lord of the Rings, and the Tolkien estate wants to block their development and launch.
Well-known video game series based on the franchise, like Lord of Rings Online, Guardians of Middle-Earth and LEGO: Lord of the Rings are not in any way affected by the new lawsuit and their development will continue.
The Tolkien estate is presumably trying to eliminate The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring: Online Slot Game because it has plans of its own to license or to create a similar product in the coming years, potentially linked to the launch of The Hobbit movies.