The ongoing legal battle between media giant Warner Brothers and the estate of fantasy author JRR Tolkien took a new turn this week as Warner Brothers counter-sued the estate.
Casino Listings readers will remember that the popular online video slot based on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings novel is one of the main areas of conflict between the two sides. Tolkien's estate claims that Warner Brothers has violated the terms of its licensing agreement with the estate by selling licensing rights to the slots.
Tolkien's estate has sued Warner Brothers for $80 million, while the media giant has counter-sued demanding damages for what it calls a "breach of contract". Warner Brothers claims that the actions by the late writer's estate have damaged the company's ability to provide licensed slots and arcade games in conjunction with its blockbuster film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Language coming from the counter suit reads: "Because of the repudiation, Warner has not entered into license agreements for online games and casino slot machines in connection with The Hobbit – a form of customary exploitation it previously had utilised in connection with the Lord of the Rings trilogy – which has harmed Warner both in the form of lost license revenue and also in decreased exposure for the Hobbit films."
Bonnie Eskenazi, a lawyer for the Tolkien estate responded to the counter suit, claiming: "The Tolkiens and HarperCollins filed this lawsuit in order to force Warner Bros and Zaentz to live within the boundaries of the contract to which they agreed. Warner and Zaentz's amended counterclaims are simply an attempt to punish the Tolkiens and HarperCollins for having the nerve to stand up to the studios and tell them that they can't take more rights than were granted to them by contract. Luckily, the law protects people like the Tolkiens and HarperCollins from these kinds of intimidation tactics."