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Tolkien Estate and Warner Bros. Settle Lawsuit Over Licensing


A giant statue of Azog, a character from “The Hobbit,” at Comic-Con in New York in 2014. Warner Bros. and the estate of the author J.R.R. Tolkien have settled a lawsuit over online merchandising.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Warner Bros. and the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien have settled an $80 million lawsuit over the digital merchandising of products from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.”

“The parties are pleased that they have amicably resolved this matter and look forward to working together in the future,” Warner Bros. said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

The lawsuit, filed in 2012 by Mr. Tolkien’s estate, claimed that Warner Bros. was in breach of contract and also violating copyright infringement for merchandising characters from Mr. Tolkien’s books — and the subsequent successful film adaptations — beyond the scope of what was agreed to when the rights were sold in 1969, causing harm to Tolkien’s legacy.


J.R.R. Tolkien

Associated Press

In particular, the lawsuit pointed to an online gambling game, “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Online Slot Game,” the existence of which the author’s estate said it learned of through a spam email.

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