Warner Bros is being sued by the estate of JRR Tolkien over its use of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit IPs in a virtual slot machine game.
The Tolkien estate has filed an $80m claim stating that the company is in violation of the licensing agreement that states the brand extends only to tangible merchandising.
"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," the filing reads.
Over time this has spread to more ambiguous products such as games, although the fact they shipped on physical discs seems to have spared them from trouble.
But Tolkien’s estate now argues that Warner has engaged in a continuing and escalating pattern of usurping rights to which they are not entitled with increasing boldness”.
The use of the brand in a gambling product is said to not only be a further violation of the terms but also one that has outraged Tolkien’s devoted fan base” and caused irreparable harm to Tolkien’s legacy and reputation”.