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Lawsuit against cafe for using the word "hobbit"

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  • WendellWag@aol.com
    More on lawsuit news: http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2011/11/19/moseley-cafe-hungr
    Message 1 of 15 , Nov 19, 2011
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      More on lawsuit news:
       
      http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2011/11/19/moseley-cafe-hungry-hobbit-threatened-with-legal-action-by-jrr-tolkein-s-estate-97319-29802946/#ixzz1eAC3Al00
      Note the misspelling in the title of article and the URL.
       
      Wendell Wagner
    • Wayne G. Hammond
      ... We wonder if the complaint isn t being brought by Middle-earth Enterprises (Saul Zaentz Co.) alone, not by the Tolkien Estate, as both can t claim a
      Message 2 of 15 , Nov 20, 2011
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        Wendell wrote:

        http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2011/11/19/moseley-cafe-hungry-hobbit-threatened-with-legal-action-by-jrr-tolkein-s-estate-97319-29802946/#ixzz1eAC3Al00

        We wonder if the complaint isn't being brought by Middle-earth Enterprises (Saul Zaentz Co.) alone, not by the Tolkien Estate, as both can't claim a trademark right to "Hobbit" and it has been Zaentz's people who have been litigious about its commercial use.

        Wayne & Christina
      • Doug Kane
        I m inclined to agree with Wayne and Christina. Here s another recent example of Zaentz and company forcing a small business to remove the name hobbit :
        Message 3 of 15 , Nov 20, 2011
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          I'm inclined to agree with Wayne and Christina.  Here's another recent example of Zaentz and company forcing a small business to remove the name "hobbit":
           
           
          No mention in this one of the Estate.  And I've never heard of situation of the Estate and SZC working in concert; they are much more likely to be opposing each other.  It certainly isn't impossible for them to have competing claims (and I'm not sure that SZC would win that argument).  It is particularly telling that when the letter Wendell linked to gets down to specifics, the only references are to SZC's lawyers, and the basis of SCZ's claim.  I think it is most likely that the reporter in the Birmingham Mail article simply made a faulty assumption.
           
          And we all know what happens when one ass u me s.
           
          Doug
           
           
          Sent: Sunday, November 20, 2011 6:13 AM
          Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Lawsuit against cafe for using the word "hobbit"

           

          Wendell wrote:

          http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2011/11/19/moseley-cafe-hungry-hobbit-threatened-with-legal-action-by-jrr-tolkein-s-estate-97319-29802946/#ixzz1eAC3Al00

          We wonder if the complaint isn't being brought by Middle-earth Enterprises (Saul Zaentz Co.) alone, not by the Tolkien Estate, as both can't claim a trademark right to "Hobbit" and it has been Zaentz's people who have been litigious about its commercial use.

          Wayne & Christina

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        • drldonovan
          I really hope they don t come after our student group, the UNM Hobbit Society for such as this! Of course, as an educational organization, we don t really make
          Message 4 of 15 , Nov 20, 2011
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            I really hope they don't come after our student group, the UNM Hobbit Society for such as this! Of course, as an educational organization, we don't really make any money, so it's probably not an issue-- I hope :)

            Leslie

            --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, WendellWag@... wrote:
            >
            > More on lawsuit news:
            >
            > http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2011/11/19/moseley-cafe-hungr
            > y-hobbit-threatened-with-legal-action-by-jrr-tolkein-s-estate-97319-29802946
            > /#ixzz1eAC3Al00
            >
            > Note the misspelling in the title of article and the URL.
            >
            > Wendell Wagner
            >
          • Cat Eldridge
            ... I doubt they will but they, the license holder(s), do need to enforce their brand or they loose it.
            Message 5 of 15 , Nov 20, 2011
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              > I really hope they don't come after our student group, the UNM Hobbit Society for such as this! Of course, as an educational organization, we don't really make any money, so it's probably not an issue-- I hope :)
              >
              > Leslie

              I doubt they will but they, the license holder(s), do need to enforce their brand or they loose it.
            • WendellWag@aol.com
              What was the final outcome when, a few years ago, the Estate sent letters asking any national organizations with the word Tolkien in their name to remove the
              Message 6 of 15 , Nov 20, 2011
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                What was the final outcome when, a few years ago, the Estate sent letters asking any national organizations with the word "Tolkien" in their name to remove the word "Tolkien" or sign an agreement with the Estate, which may have included paying the Estate a yearly fee?
                 
                Wendell Wagner
                 
                In a message dated 11/20/2011 1:57:47 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, ldonovan@... writes:
                I really hope they don't come after our student group, the UNM Hobbit Society for such as this! Of course, as an educational organization, we don't really make any money, so it's probably not an issue-- I hope :)

              • Cat Eldridge
                ... The American Tolkien Society has this on their front page TOLKIEN is a trade mark of The J.R.R. Tolkien Estate Limited and is used with kind permission. I
                Message 7 of 15 , Nov 20, 2011
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                  What was the final outcome when, a few years ago, the Estate sent letters asking any national organizations with the word "Tolkien" in their name to remove the word "Tolkien" or sign an agreement with the Estate, which may have included paying the Estate a yearly fee?
                   
                  Wendell Wagner

                  The American Tolkien Society has this on their front page

                  TOLKIEN is a trade mark of The J.R.R. Tolkien Estate Limited and is used with kind permission.

                  I suspect that no actual monies are involved. 

                • Michael Martinez
                  Trademark infringement has to prove that there is consumer confusion over use of the name (at least under U.S. law). Hence, there are plenty of Hobbit -named
                  Message 8 of 15 , Nov 20, 2011
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                    Trademark infringement has to prove that there is consumer confusion over use of the name (at least under U.S. law). Hence, there are plenty of "Hobbit"-named businesses in the U.S. where it's obvious to the consumers that there is no real connection to the book or movies.

                    In fact, thanks to Tolkien scholars (who have publicized Michael Aislabie Denham's wordlist including "hobbit"), it has now been established that J.R.R. Tolkien did not invent the word "Hobbit", so trademark disputes have to revolve around more than just use of the word itself -- they'll have to show that an activity or product or service is being promoted in such a way as to mislead consumers into thinking that the trademark owner has licensed or approved of the use of the trademark (as it relates to the trademark's purpose).

                    Some C-and-D actions are little more than puffery (Fandom, Inc's attempts to stake claims across the Internet failed miserably). It's hard to say based on a simple news story what is really at stake. 1 simple little cafe in the middle of the UK can hardly be seen to threaten SZC's trademark -- and a thousand such cafes across the world would not in any way reflect Tolkien's story unless they all dressed themselves up Hobbit pictures, used names from the books, etc.

                    --
                    Michael Martinez
                    http://www.michael-martinez.com/

                    YOU CAN HELP OUR WOUNDED WARRIORS
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                  • WendellWag@aol.com
                    Then it would be a good idea to contact the owners of this cafe and tell them that the organizations threatening to sue them have no case. Wendell Wagner In a
                    Message 9 of 15 , Nov 20, 2011
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                      Then it would be a good idea to contact the owners of this cafe and tell them that the organizations threatening to sue them have no case.
                       
                      Wendell Wagner
                       
                      In a message dated 11/20/2011 5:57:21 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, michael.martinez@... writes:
                       

                      Trademark infringement has to prove that there is consumer confusion over use of the name (at least under U.S. law). Hence, there are plenty of "Hobbit"-named businesses in the U.S. where it's obvious to the consumers that there is no real connection to the book or movies.

                      In fact, thanks to Tolkien scholars (who have publicized Michael Aislabie Denham's wordlist including "hobbit"), it has now been established that J.R.R. Tolkien did not invent the word "Hobbit", so trademark disputes have to revolve around more than just use of the word itself -- they'll have to show that an activity or product or service is being promoted in such a way as to mislead consumers into thinking that the trademark owner has licensed or approved of the use of the trademark (as it relates to the trademark's purpose).

                      Some C-and-D actions are little more than puffery (Fandom, Inc's attempts to stake claims across the Internet failed miserably). It's hard to say based on a simple news story what is really at stake. 1 simple little cafe in the middle of the UK can hardly be seen to threaten SZC's trademark -- and a thousand such cafes across the world would not in any way reflect Tolkien's story unless they all dressed themselves up Hobbit pictures, used names from the books, etc.

                      --
                      Michael Martinez
                      http://www.michael-martinez.com/

                      YOU CAN HELP OUR WOUNDED WARRIORS
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                    • Michael Martinez
                      ... I m sure they could find a more qualified advisor with the correct background in the UK. :) Having only read the one brief article you linked to, I don t
                      Message 10 of 15 , Nov 20, 2011
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                        --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, WendellWag@... wrote:
                        >
                        > Then it would be a good idea to contact the owners of this cafe and
                        > tell them that the organizations threatening to sue them have no
                        > case.
                        >
                        > Wendell Wagner

                        I'm sure they could find a more qualified advisor with the correct background in the UK. :)

                        Having only read the one brief article you linked to, I don't see why the Saul Zaentz Company should even care about the cafe. It sounds to me like there is more to the story than the reporter knows or is telling.

                        --
                        Michael Martinez
                        http://www.michael-martinez.com/

                        YOU CAN HELP OUR WOUNDED WARRIORS
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                      • Michael Martinez
                        I suppose if I m going to stick my foot in my mouth I might as well go all the way up to the knee with some wild speculation. Perhaps someone has applied for a
                        Message 11 of 15 , Nov 20, 2011
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                          I suppose if I'm going to stick my foot in my mouth I might as well go all the way up to the knee with some wild speculation.

                          Perhaps someone has applied for a restaurant-related trademark license with the Saul Zaentz Company (well, Middle-earth Enterprises, really).

                          Then it might make sense for them to try to enforce trademark against all these little cafes and restaurants. But given that some have operated under those names for years, possibly decades, unless they had already obtained permission to use the names I would think the trademark action would be unenforceable.

                          It's always kind of interesting to me to follow these things because I have supported several fan communities that have faced trademark enforcement from studios and big corporations.


                          --
                          Michael Martinez
                          http://www.michael-martinez.com/

                          YOU CAN HELP OUR WOUNDED WARRIORS
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                        • John Davis
                          Given that the cafe is in Moseley, I d have thought that the use of the word hobbit is certainly intended to refer speficially to Tolkien s hobbits. And, given
                          Message 12 of 15 , Nov 21, 2011
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                            Given that the cafe is in Moseley, I'd have thought that the use of the word hobbit is certainly intended to refer speficially to Tolkien's hobbits. And, given also the number of Tolkien and Tolkien Society related places and events in the area, I'd also suspect people might consider that the cafe has licence/approval from the Estate to use the term.
                             
                            (Not that I'm in any way in favour of their being told to cease.)
                             
                            John
                             
                            ----- Original Message -----
                            Sent: Sunday, November 20, 2011 10:57 PM
                            Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Lawsuit against cafe for using the word "hobbit"

                             

                            Trademark infringement has to prove that there is consumer confusion over use of the name (at least under U.S. law). Hence, there are plenty of "Hobbit"-named businesses in the U.S. where it's obvious to the consumers that there is no real connection to the book or movies.

                            In fact, thanks to Tolkien scholars (who have publicized Michael Aislabie Denham's wordlist including "hobbit"), it has now been established that J.R.R. Tolkien did not invent the word "Hobbit", so trademark disputes have to revolve around more than just use of the word itself -- they'll have to show that an activity or product or service is being promoted in such a way as to mislead consumers into thinking that the trademark owner has licensed or approved of the use of the trademark (as it relates to the trademark's purpose).

                            Some C-and-D actions are little more than puffery (Fandom, Inc's attempts to stake claims across the Internet failed miserably). It's hard to say based on a simple news story what is really at stake. 1 simple little cafe in the middle of the UK can hardly be seen to threaten SZC's trademark -- and a thousand such cafes across the world would not in any way reflect Tolkien's story unless they all dressed themselves up Hobbit pictures, used names from the books, etc.

                            --
                            Michael Martinez
                            http://www.michael-martinez.com/

                            YOU CAN HELP OUR WOUNDED WARRIORS
                            http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/

                          • Michael Martinez
                            ... You have a point about the Moseley connection, which slipped past me. But if the cafe was so-named 6-8 years ago, would it have made that big a difference
                            Message 13 of 15 , Nov 21, 2011
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                              --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "John Davis" <john@...> wrote:
                              >
                              > Given that the cafe is in Moseley, I'd have thought that the use of
                              > the word hobbit is certainly intended to refer speficially to
                              > Tolkien's hobbits. And, given also the number of Tolkien and Tolkien
                              > Society related places and events in the area, I'd also suspect
                              > people might consider that the cafe has licence/approval from the
                              > Estate to use the term.
                              >
                              > (Not that I'm in any way in favour of their being told to cease.)
                              >
                              > John

                              You have a point about the Moseley connection, which slipped past me. But if the cafe was so-named 6-8 years ago, would it have made that big a difference then? That would have been after the third Peter Jackson movie.

                              I guess it will be interesting to see what happens.

                              --
                              Michael Martinez
                              http://www.michael-martinez.com/

                              YOU CAN HELP OUR WOUNDED WARRIORS
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                            • John Davis
                              Well, I reckon that a Tolkien fan turning up for an event in the area, and presented with the choice between eating in the Hungry Hobbit or another
                              Message 14 of 15 , Nov 22, 2011
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                                Well, I reckon that a Tolkien fan turning up for an event in the area, and presented with the choice between eating in the Hungry Hobbit or another normally-named cafe, would choose the Hungry Hobbit every time. As well they should!
                                 
                                John
                                 
                                ----- Original Message -----
                                Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 1:27 AM
                                Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Lawsuit against cafe for using the word "hobbit"

                                 

                                --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "John Davis" <john@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > Given that the cafe is in Moseley, I'd have thought that the use of
                                > the word hobbit is certainly intended to refer speficially to
                                > Tolkien's hobbits. And, given also the number of Tolkien and Tolkien
                                > Society related places and events in the area, I'd also suspect
                                > people might consider that the cafe has licence/approval from the
                                > Estate to use the term.
                                >
                                > (Not that I'm in any way in favour of their being told to cease.)
                                >
                                > John

                                You have a point about the Moseley connection, which slipped past me. But if the cafe was so-named 6-8 years ago, would it have made that big a difference then? That would have been after the third Peter Jackson movie.

                                I guess it will be interesting to see what happens.

                                --
                                Michael Martinez
                                http://www.michael-martinez.com/

                                YOU CAN HELP OUR WOUNDED WARRIORS
                                http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/

                              • WendellWag@aol.com
                                Speak for yourself. I would never be influenced by anything as trivial as the name of the restaurant. Wendell Wagner In a message dated 11/22/2011 4:48:11
                                Message 15 of 15 , Nov 22, 2011
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                                  Speak for yourself.  I would never be influenced by anything as trivial as the name of the restaurant.
                                   
                                  Wendell Wagner
                                   
                                  In a message dated 11/22/2011 4:48:11 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, john@... writes:
                                    Well, I reckon that a Tolkien fan turning up for an event in the area, and presented with the choice between eating in the Hungry Hobbit or another normally-named cafe, would choose the Hungry Hobbit every time. As well they should!
                                   
                                  John
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