Earlier this week, the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien settled an $80 million lawsuit with Warner Bros. that had been on-going since 2012. The lawsuit claimed that Warner Brothers studios had breached the terms of their contract with Tolkien's estate and violated the copyright infringement clause by producing digital merchandise beyond an agreed scope since the merchandising and creative development rights were sold in 1969. Furthermore, the suit claimed that Warner Bros. intended to extend the Lord of The Rings license (again, without consent) to "Hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and housing development companies".
One thing specifically mentioned as a point of contention in the lawsuit is an online "Lord of The Rings" themed Slots Game that WB developed and released even though it had not been agreed to and most fans found confusing and disappointing. The Tolkien Estate was not even made aware of the slots game until someone connected to the estate received a spam email promoting it.
Also, WB released a series of real-life "Lord of The Rings" themed slot machines for casinos to generate additional revenue. The estate claimed that the use of the license to develop gambling items harmed the legacy of J.R.R. Tolkien. WB attempted to counter-sue claiming that the lawsuit over these items had cost them millions in revenue from them.
Though it has not been mentioned specifically, this may have been one of the contributing factors to LOTRO departing Turbine and WB Games for Standing Stone. Standing Stone has stated from the start that they maintain a good working relationship with Tolkien's Estate and the creative rights contract has been renewed with the estate for an unspecified number of years.
Tolkien Estate settles lawsuit against Warner Bros.
calwhitebark / Jul 05, 2017