A battle centred on Microgaming’s branded Lord of the Rings online slot has been brought to an end. The battlefield was a courtroom rather than the blackened foothills of Mordor, and the Orcs were replaced with legal teams; nonetheless, the 5-year-long clash was epic.
In the end, the legal dispute brought against Warner Bros by the estate of Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
Attorney for the estate, Bonnie Eskenazi, said that the resolution had been amicable, and that the estate and Warner Bros had plans to work together in the future.
The $80 million lawsuit was launched by the estate, together with HarperCollins publishers, in 2012. According to the estate, the licensing rights granted to the entertainment company by Tolkien in 1969 concerned only tangible personal items such as clothing, toys, and stationery, and not for gambling games or machines.
The estate found out about the Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring online slot machine through an unsolicited email.
Warner Bros Hit Back
The protracted legal battle between the JRR Tolkien estate and Warner Bros intensified when the studio countersued the estate.
The studio claimed that the estate’s legal action deterred the studio from entering into licensing agreements for online slots and other games based on its film the Hobbit, a prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
According to the studio, the lack of game licensing meant a smaller audience was reached, which led to a loss of revenue.
Second Out of Court Settlement
The recently ended dispute was the second time the fantasy author’s estate has taken on the Hollywood giant. A previous battle began when the estate claimed that the original licensing rights gave the estate claim to 7.5 per cent of the film trilogy’s gross revenue.
The estate sued New Line Cinema, a subsidiary of Warner Bros, for more than $200 million. The lawsuit was settled out of court.
Produced over eight years with a budget of almost $300 million, the trilogy made up of the Fellowship of the Ring, the Two Towers, and the Return of the King, was directed by New Zealand native Peter Jackson.
The ambitious project was filmed at more than 150 locations throughout New Zealand’s national parks and other conservation areas, as well as at soundstages near Queenstown and Wellington.