"The Hobbit" vs "The Hobbit" Pub

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So in southampton there is a pub called 'The Hobbit', it has been named that for the last twenty years but now (in the last couple of weeks) the Saul Zaentz Company (who own the merchandising and film rights to some of Tolkien's works) have contacted the management of 'The Hobbit' and told them that EVERYTHING in the bar is a copyright infringement. This includes the name of the pub, the titles of the drinks and even the artwork on the walls.
A facebook campaign has already been launched (facebook.com/SaveTheHobbitSouthampton) with over 40,000 'likes', stephen fry himself has even tweeted on the subject calling it "pointless, self-defeating bullying".
bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-17366992
What do you make of this then?
I get that they have to defend their legal right in the matter but it just seems very petty and could spell the end of a fantastic pub if lawyers get involved.
Thoughts? Is everyone overreacting and the pub re-brand? Is this copyright enforcement stomping on a loving tribute to a great literary work?

(edit)Petition link if anyone is interested
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-the-hobbit-pub-in-southampton/

Well, according to my friends and brother who love in Southampton The Hobbit is a pretty unique pub, complete with specific drinks named after the members of the Fellowship which you can order. I don't see what the company possibly has to gain from this.

They probably want to close the place down so that they can open their own official hobbit pub. In my eyes this is a pointless waste of the company's time, and the Pub's time. It's not harming anyone. How is it bad for the big corporation? It doesn't affect them negatively does it...

If I were the Saul Zaentz Company, I'd just offer the landlady a sum of money and buy the pub, and then keep it open. It would probably be quicker than going to court etc, and in the long run probably cheaper.

That way, everyone's happy. Pub stays open, and there's no copyright infringement...

Community backlash will probably bite them in the ass. Like mentioned above, there's nothing to gain by having a go at the pub, nothing except bad publicity.

It seems Ian McKellen is a supporter as well
http://www.mckellen.com/cinema/hobbit-movie/120314.htm
Couldn't the name and associated stuff be licensed to the pub for a one-off fee perhaps?
Would save everyone a lot of hassle, all that seems to be happening at the moment is a lot of bad press for the company.

Awkward.

On the one hand, it doesn't sound like a good thing, but on the other, if they make their place of business based after someone else's IP...that's something they should have seen coming.

I used to drink there (before moving to wetter climes for university). It is sad news indeed - particularly because the pub is run by, and inhabited by, fans of Tolkien's work.

I'm not sure they have the right to pursue this legally - exactly what the "rights" the company has are hazy to me. I was under the impression that copyright is limited in scope, it does not protect ideas but works, and as the Saul Zaentz Company has not produced its own pub, or themed drinks, then it has no legal rights to them (this is where the licensing from the Tolkien Estate could come into play). Particularly as The Hobbit (pub) has been called that for 23 years, and the Saul Zaentz Company did not get the licenses for the UK until 15 years ago.

The landlady has said that the pub might have to capitulate simply because it cannot afford the legal fees to take on such a massive company (I should think that, best case scenario, even if the case was won by the pub and the losers had to pay legal fees, the Saul Zaentz Company can just keep appealing until the pub cannot afford to continue).

I agree with Stephen Fry's comments - this is pointless bullying. Good to see that Sir Ian McKellen is on-side too!

I think we need to crush this pub as punishment for waving facebook "likes" in our faces as if they had some sort of significance. Stuff those Zuckerberg coins up the owners butt and kick him out on the street.

And yeah the Saul Zaentz Company is in the right legally here too. They own the right to the name. He used the name with a reference to The Hobbit IP owned by Saul Zaentz Company.

If the bar was allowed to get away with this then I would open "the Apple iphone bar" in the middle of town and make a fortune on all of Steve Jobs zombies and cultists as they gobble up the IP connection.

Pretty much they don't have any choice but to do this thanks to the way IP law works, if they don't defend it it becomes fair game. It's the same thing that makes marvel etc sue everyone vaguely similar.

and the copywrite monster strikes again. This kind of bullying acheives nothing and I cannot fathom what the point is other than to..well, bully.

This is like when Lady Gaga forced an tiny icecream shop to shut down because it was named "Baby Gaga".

This is FREE ADVERTISING, you would think they'd love it.

Uh, isn't the book public domain yet? If they started the pub before the movies came about, it should be clear.

Dejawesp:
I think we need to crush this pub as punishment for waving facebook "likes" in our faces as if they had some sort of significance. Stuff those Zuckerberg coins up the owners butt and kick him out on the street.

And yeah the Saul Zaentz Company is in the right legally here too. They own the right to the name. He used the name with a reference to The Hobbit IP owned by Saul Zaentz Company.

If the bar was allowed to get away with this then I would open "the Apple iphone bar" in the middle of town and make a fortune on all of Steve Jobs zombies and cultists as they gobble up the IP connection.

The OP stated the pub had been named that for the past 20 years. This isn't a new business springing up to capitalize on the popularity of LotR.

Realitycrash:
Uh, isn't the book public domain yet? If they started the pub before the movies came about, it should be clear.

IIRC, it's 75 years since the death of the author, so anyone who died in 1937 or before is fair game. Tolkien was alive during WW2, IIRC, so no.

idarkphoenixi:
and the copywrite monster strikes again. This kind of bullying acheives nothing and I cannot fathom what the point is other than to..well, bully.

This is like when Lady Gaga forced an tiny icecream shop to shut down because it was named "Baby Gaga".

This is FREE ADVERTISING, you would think they'd love it.

I dunno. I think I'd be pissed off as well if they used my stuff for their business without asking my permission.

thaluikhain:

Realitycrash:
Uh, isn't the book public domain yet? If they started the pub before the movies came about, it should be clear.

IIRC, it's 75 years since the death of the author, so anyone who died in 1937 or before is fair game. Tolkien was alive during WW2, IIRC, so no.

idarkphoenixi:
and the copywrite monster strikes again. This kind of bullying acheives nothing and I cannot fathom what the point is other than to..well, bully.

This is like when Lady Gaga forced an tiny icecream shop to shut down because it was named "Baby Gaga".

This is FREE ADVERTISING, you would think they'd love it.

I dunno. I think I'd be pissed off as well if they used my stuff for their business without asking my permission.

Well, crap. Gonnna go look up public domain and see if there is a loophole.

Realitycrash:
Well, crap. Gonnna go look up public domain and see if there is a loophole.

IIRC, it used to be 50 years since the death of the author, but then Disney made the US change the rules so that nobody else could use Mickey Mouse, and then made the US make the rest of the world follow suit.

So, they'll keep on increasing the length of time and Tolkien won't ever be long dead enough.

Hoplon:
Pretty much they don't have any choice but to do this thanks to the way IP law works, if they don't defend it it becomes fair game. It's the same thing that makes marvel etc sue everyone vaguely similar.

THey do have a choice:

1) Not do anything, but that in effect opens the flood gates.

2) Legitimise the Hobbit pub, best for PR but legal advice isn't going to be happy as they get much more money sueing than just legitimising.

3) Sue them, force them to change.

4) Do 2 then 3.

thaluikhain:

Realitycrash:
Well, crap. Gonnna go look up public domain and see if there is a loophole.

IIRC, it used to be 50 years since the death of the author, but then Disney made the US change the rules so that nobody else could use Mickey Mouse, and then made the US make the rest of the world follow suit.

So, they'll keep on increasing the length of time and Tolkien won't ever be long dead enough.

Well who the hell sold the rights to the movie-makers then?

thaluikhain:
Awkward.

On the one hand, it doesn't sound like a good thing, but on the other, if they make their place of business based after someone else's IP...that's something they should have seen coming.

It's been around for 20 years, so the books were long since out at the time, and this was long before the LoTR films were even a glimmer in Peter Jackson's eye. The fact that the pub has existed unopposed for a decade since the LoTR films came out just further serves to show the utter absurdity of this lawsuit. This is an affectionate support of Tolkien's work, not a cynical move to make money out of the IP.

Besides, this is overlooking a very important point; this is probably one of the only places in the world where you can walk in, say "I'll have a Gandalf," and not only be understood, but be given alcohol to boot!

Dejawesp:
I think we need to crush this pub as punishment for waving facebook "likes" in our faces as if they had some sort of significance. Stuff those Zuckerberg coins up the owners butt and kick him out on the street.

And yeah the Saul Zaentz Company is in the right legally here too. They own the right to the name. He used the name with a reference to The Hobbit IP owned by Saul Zaentz Company.

If the bar was allowed to get away with this then I would open "the Apple iphone bar" in the middle of town and make a fortune on all of Steve Jobs zombies and cultists as they gobble up the IP connection.

I direct you to my above post, and ask you to take your head out of your ass and do some basic research before making such a brash comment. You honestly think a pub that is themed after Tolkien's work in appreciation should be crushed under a corporation simply because they dared to show they had supporters via a Facebook campaign? What a horrible, vindictive person you are. The pub was named the Hobbit before the Saul Zantez Company got the IP rights, and it has existed happily for a decade, whilst the LoTR films came out, hobbits and all. Was any harm done in said decade to the revenues of the Saul Zantez Company? Hardly. I would rather support a pub that might be breaking copyright law than a company that got too greedy and decided only now to chase after something so insignificant.

Just bullying.

I'm going to call in for a pint of Gandalf and two packs of cheese and onion.

Realitycrash:

thaluikhain:

Realitycrash:
Well, crap. Gonnna go look up public domain and see if there is a loophole.

IIRC, it used to be 50 years since the death of the author, but then Disney made the US change the rules so that nobody else could use Mickey Mouse, and then made the US make the rest of the world follow suit.

So, they'll keep on increasing the length of time and Tolkien won't ever be long dead enough.

Well who the hell sold the rights to the movie-makers then?

Presumably whoever inherited them, they get passed along like everything else.

Not a bad little earner that, if you happen to have a dead parent or grandparent who's written something they want to make into a film.

thaluikhain:

Realitycrash:

thaluikhain:

IIRC, it used to be 50 years since the death of the author, but then Disney made the US change the rules so that nobody else could use Mickey Mouse, and then made the US make the rest of the world follow suit.

So, they'll keep on increasing the length of time and Tolkien won't ever be long dead enough.

Well who the hell sold the rights to the movie-makers then?

Presumably whoever inherited them, they get passed along like everything else.

Not a bad little earner that, if you happen to have a dead parent or grandparent who's written something they want to make into a film.

Hobbit and Lotr rights were sold before JRR Tolkiens death to a separate company. The inherited rights, controlled by Christopher Tolkien concerning his fathers other works, are unavailable for licensing effectively, because C Tolkien is a massive snob who doesn't feel that film or any other medium can possible meet the standards needed.

Melon Hunter:
I direct you to my above post, and ask you to take your head out of your ass and do some basic research before making such a brash comment. You honestly think a pub that is themed after Tolkien's work in appreciation should be crushed under a corporation simply because they dared to show they had supporters via a Facebook campaign?

Yes really. Any person swinging facebook around like a weapon and citing it for significance should be parried by common sense and then annihilated.

Melon Hunter:
What a horrible, vindictive person you are. The pub was named the Hobbit before the Saul Zantez Company got the IP rights, and it has existed happily for a decade, whilst the LoTR films came out, hobbits and all. Was any harm done in said decade to the revenues of the Saul Zantez Company? Hardly. I would rather support a pub that might be breaking copyright law than a company that got too greedy and decided only now to chase after something so insignificant.

If the Saul Zantez Company doesn't defend their IP then they set a precedent for other people to abuse it in the future.

Dejawesp:

Melon Hunter:
I direct you to my above post, and ask you to take your head out of your ass and do some basic research before making such a brash comment. You honestly think a pub that is themed after Tolkien's work in appreciation should be crushed under a corporation simply because they dared to show they had supporters via a Facebook campaign?

Yes really. Any person swinging facebook around like a weapon and citing it for significance should be parried by common sense and then annihilated.

Melon Hunter:
What a horrible, vindictive person you are. The pub was named the Hobbit before the Saul Zantez Company got the IP rights, and it has existed happily for a decade, whilst the LoTR films came out, hobbits and all. Was any harm done in said decade to the revenues of the Saul Zantez Company? Hardly. I would rather support a pub that might be breaking copyright law than a company that got too greedy and decided only now to chase after something so insignificant.

If the Saul Zantez Company doesn't defend their IP then they set a precedent for other people to abuse it in the future.

40,000 people signed a petition asking for the lawsuit against the pub to be dropped. Regardless of where that petition is hosted, that's a pretty damn significant number. Anyone arguing otherwise should, to paraphrase yourself, 'be parried by common sense and then annihilated.' Allowing your own personal prejudices against social networking sites into your argument will endear you to no-one.

Besides, if they're defending their IP, why didn't they do this way back in 2001 when the Fellowship of the Ring was released? Y'know, that film with hobbits in? In the 11 years since, I have roundly failed to see any significant abuse of the IP. The motives behind this are not rooted in defending their IP; it is simple greed.

Palfreyfish:
They probably want to close the place down so that they can open their own official hobbit pub.

If they did, it'd probably be a cold, focus-grouped corporate monstrosity with as much personality as a granite accountant.

It does seem a bit unfair. There're more Sherlock Holmes-themed pubs in London alone than you can shake a slipper full of tobacco at, but they get a free pass because the Holmes IP has been fair game for yonks, even though Tolkien's 'Legendarium', whatever the fuck that is, is only marginally less well-known than Conan Doyle's nosey crackhead.

John Mortimer, who wrote the Rumpole of the Bailey TV show and books, was fully aware there were pubs all over the world named after his character, and he just seemed flattered, if slightly perplexed. Tolkien was a man who liked his ale, apparently. I don't know if he'd have minded his books being the basis for a pub, provided they'd let him have drinks on the house for life.

What I'm wondering is, will legal action be taken against the band 'Marillion', or are they saving that until they produce Gemzapoppin': the Silmarillion Musical?

Just ask for some royalties, No need to break-out the sandblasters. You don't want to go against Mycroft AND Gandalf.

Geo Da Sponge:
Well, according to my friends and brother who love in Southampton The Hobbit is a pretty unique pub, complete with specific drinks named after the members of the Fellowship which you can order. I don't see what the company possibly has to gain from this.

Steven Fry and Neil Gaiman are on board too. I've been going to the Hobbit for years and love it to bits. Great pub, great music venue (love playing there). The thing that has me particularly narked about the whole situation (apart from how pointless it all is) is that SZC have owned the rights since before the 1978 animated version of Lord of the Rings (and have held it for 15 years in the UK). Yet they have waited until now to get involved. They have also hit out at the Hungry Hobbit Cafe in Birmingham. Here's hoping that we can help Stella keep the Hobbit just the way it is!

Edited for double post. Sorry!

Petromir:
The inherited rights, controlled by Christopher Tolkien concerning his fathers other works, are unavailable for licensing effectively, because C Tolkien is a massive snob who doesn't feel that film or any other medium can possible meet the standards needed.

Rightly so in my opinion.

Melon Hunter:
40,000 people signed a petition asking for the lawsuit against the pub to be dropped. Regardless of where that petition is hosted, that's a pretty damn significant number. Anyone arguing otherwise should, to paraphrase yourself, 'be parried by common sense and then annihilated.' Allowing your own personal prejudices against social networking sites into your argument will endear you to no-one.

People do not pay taxes do the zantez company. Its a private company and not a public institution and as such are not entitled to any voice on their business matters.

Melon Hunter:
Besides, if they're defending their IP, why didn't they do this way back in 2001 when the Fellowship of the Ring was released? Y'know, that film with hobbits in? In the 11 years since, I have roundly failed to see any significant abuse of the IP. The motives behind this are not rooted in defending their IP; it is simple greed.

If they had done so back in 2001 then we would have had this debate in 2001 with you asking why they didn't do it in 1991 and so on.

They had the right to do it since the pub was started. When they decide to take action is at their own leisure. When you violate someone's IP you play with fire.

This is a clear cut violation where the pub profits from someone else's IP without permission or paying for it.

Dejawesp:

Melon Hunter:
40,000 people signed a petition asking for the lawsuit against the pub to be dropped. Regardless of where that petition is hosted, that's a pretty damn significant number. Anyone arguing otherwise should, to paraphrase yourself, 'be parried by common sense and then annihilated.' Allowing your own personal prejudices against social networking sites into your argument will endear you to no-one.

People do not pay taxes do the zantez company. Its a private company and not a public institution and as such are not entitled to any voice on their business matters.

Why should paying taxes have anything to do with it? As I have constantly reiterated, this pub has done no harm to the company. It is an affectionate theming. It is certainly not a nationwide chain, or any other large-scale company that would affect the revenues of Saul Zaentz. The petition is a an attempt to show the company that the negative PR generated by pursuing this lawsuit will far outweigh any monetary gain.

Dejawesp:

Melon Hunter:
Besides, if they're defending their IP, why didn't they do this way back in 2001 when the Fellowship of the Ring was released? Y'know, that film with hobbits in? In the 11 years since, I have roundly failed to see any significant abuse of the IP. The motives behind this are not rooted in defending their IP; it is simple greed.

If they had done so back in 2001 then we would have had this debate in 2001 with you asking why they didn't do it in 1991 and so on.

They had the right to do it since the pub was started. When they decide to take action is at their own leisure. When you violate someone's IP you play with fire.

Except no LoTR film was released in 1991. The question remains; why choose to do it now, rather than when the first film they released featuring hobbits came out? Apparently they were quite happy to leave it alone then. They've had the right to do it since the pub was formulated, as his company (or at least the man himself) has owned the rights since 1976. The fact that they only begin a lawsuit now, when the Hobbit film comes out in a few months, speaks volumes about their motives here.

You seem to assume the founders of this pub were attempting to steal something from Tolkien's legacy simply by paying homage to it. This is profoundly not the case, and until you realise that, I have nothing more to say to you on the issue.

Dejawesp:
I think we need to crush this pub as punishment for waving facebook "likes" in our faces as if they had some sort of significance. Stuff those Zuckerberg coins up the owners butt and kick him out on the street.

And yeah the Saul Zaentz Company is in the right legally here too. They own the right to the name. He used the name with a reference to The Hobbit IP owned by Saul Zaentz Company.

If the bar was allowed to get away with this then I would open "the Apple iphone bar" in the middle of town and make a fortune on all of Steve Jobs zombies and cultists as they gobble up the IP connection.

They should go after Led Zeppelin too. Teach those assholes that using themes from a 75 year old property whose author has been dead for 40 years is unacceptable! If anything except for a corporation makes use of this authors works then the world as we know it might come to an end.

I support these valiant corporate lawyers...I think that next they should sue Minecraft on behalf of both a large mining corporation, Lego, and Blizzard because "craft" is part of there namebrand and they need to protect their branding.

Geo Da Sponge:
Well, according to my friends and brother who love in Southampton The Hobbit is a pretty unique pub, complete with specific drinks named after the members of the Fellowship which you can order. I don't see what the company possibly has to gain from this.

That being the case, I can see the argument for infringement.

Not only is the (c) name being used, they are directly benefiting financially from use of the IP.

If the (c) owner didn't step in, they wouldn't have any control of the IP anymore.

What they really should do is work out a licensing deal.

What I think is a bit of a travesty is that it's pretty clear that a lot of hard work's gone into this pub, and the result is a genuinely wonderful place to go to in order to imbibe perception-altering substances. But godawful, ham-fisted, lazy, evil cack like Bored of the Rings and The Soddit slug by unscathed because they're 'parody'.

I lived in Southampton for 4 years while I did my degree. The Hobbit is the best pub in the world, with great beer, crazy cocktails and amazing staff. They have regular live music and a huge beer garden with a fantastic atmosphere.

SZC are a bunch of sodding bullies. I realise they have the legal right to do this, but just because they can doesn't mean they should.

Melon Hunter:
Why should paying taxes have anything to do with it?

Because citizens signing a petition to show support for or against government action has legitimate value as the government represents them. Making a petition to force a private company to do something makes about as much sense as the old story where a neighbourhood started a petition to force one person living there to change his flower arrangement to suit the others theme

Dejawesp:
You seem to assume the founders of this pub were attempting to steal something from Tolkien's legacy simply by paying homage to it.

Its not a homage. They are using the tolkien theme to attract customers to the pub and make money off of someone else's IP without paying the owners of the IP any money. Its like starting a Disney themed restaurant without permission and serve Mickey Mouse milkshakes.

Sandytimeman:
They should go after Led Zeppelin too. Teach those assholes that using themes from a 75 year old property whose author has been dead for 40 years is unacceptable! If anything except for a corporation makes use of this authors works then the world as we know it might come to an end.

There's a wee bit of different in using the last name of a man that has been dead for half a century and taking an active intellectual property and copying the names, character and themes for profit.

Was Zeppelin even an owned trademark in 1966? Was it ever an owned trademark?

Sandytimeman:
I support these valiant corporate lawyers...I think that next they should sue Minecraft on behalf of both a large mining corporation, Lego, and Blizzard because "craft" is part of there namebrand and they need to protect their branding.

Except that craft is a reference to crafting in general where as "The Hobbit bar" is a reference to "The Hobbit" Intellectual property, going so far as to use characters from the story and names. Do I really have to spell out the difference for you?

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