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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Main:
Lawsuit update

Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Sep 19 2013, 5:05pm

Post #1 of 13 (361 views)
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Lawsuit update Can't Post

An update on the status of the lawsuit. Fourth Age (the entity representing the Tolkien Estate) has appealed the court's decision to deny its special motion to strike the defendants' counter-claims against it to the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeal, which has previously ruled that the denial of such a motion can be appealed prior to a final judgment in the underlying case. The result of this is that the underlying case will now be put on hold while the appeal winds its way through the process, which is likely to take at least a year.

Interestingly, while each previous step of the lawsuit has been widely reported, I haven't seen any media reports of the appeal (which was filed last month) at all.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Elizabeth
Valinor


Sep 19 2013, 6:41pm

Post #2 of 13 (240 views)
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Interpretation needed! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for doing such a great job of following this for us!

Could you please take it one step further and refresh our memory (or clarify for newcomers) what the issue is that the appeal is addressing?








Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Sep 19 2013, 7:21pm

Post #3 of 13 (260 views)
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Sure thing [In reply to] Can't Post

The original lawsuit was filed, you will recall, by the representatives of the Tolkien Estate, as well Harper Collins, against WB, New Line, and Saul Zaentz's Middle-earth Enterprises, alleging copyright infringement, with regard to Lord of the Rings themed slot machines, and online and downloadable video games. The defendants then filed counter-claims, alleging that by making these allegations, the Tolkien Estate itself has breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing inherent in all contracts, causing WB and Zaentz harm. Fourth Age then filed a special motion to strike, alleging that the counterclaims were SLAPPS, or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, brought only to try to bully them into dropping the original lawsuit. The judge, however rejected that motion, saying "these claims arise out of the parties’ divergent understanding of the Warner Parties’ and Zaentz’s rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. They are routine contract-based claims and counterclaims.” It is that ruling that Fourth Age has appealed.

For a more detailed description, you can see the piece that I wrote for TORN back in July after the judge denied the motion to strike: http://www.theonering.net/...t-tolkien-lawsuit/2/. You will note that I wrote then "Unless the Estate tries to appeal this latest ruling (a move that would have a very small chance of success, in my opinion), the parties will now move on to actually litigating their respective claims against each other." I continue to believe that the will have a very small chance of succeeded with the appeal, but it will delay the two sides litigating their respective claims for some time.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Elizabeth
Valinor


Sep 20 2013, 12:01am

Post #4 of 13 (203 views)
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Thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

That is a very clear, concise summary.








Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Sep 20 2013, 3:45am

Post #5 of 13 (178 views)
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Yes, thanks Voronwe. [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for giving us an update. It seems this is going to drag out forever. Good job security for the corporate attorneys. Crazy


Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.



"Life can't be all work and no TORn" -- jflower

"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase





Meneldor
Tol Eressea


Sep 20 2013, 4:20am

Post #6 of 13 (188 views)
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I can tell you right now who's going to win: [In reply to] Can't Post

the lawyers.


They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.


Rosie-with-the-ribbons
Forum Admin / Moderator


Sep 20 2013, 7:31pm

Post #7 of 13 (151 views)
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Thanks [In reply to] Can't Post

for keeping us up to date!



Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Sep 21 2013, 8:18pm

Post #8 of 13 (116 views)
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Haha! [In reply to] Can't Post

All too true, Meneldor. Crazy


Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.



"Life can't be all work and no TORn" -- jflower

"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase





squire
Valinor


Sep 22 2013, 2:53am

Post #9 of 13 (112 views)
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I'm not so sure it's they who will be the real winners [In reply to] Can't Post

As far as I can tell from Voronwe's very helpful posts, the suit is about whether or not someone can use the Tolkien name and intellectual property to market slot machines and video games based on The Lord of the Rings and/or The Hobbit. So, if one party wins, they get to make potentially hundreds of millions of dollars - of which their lawyers will get a small percentage as their fee. Meanwhile, the other party maintains that Tolkien's name and art should not be used that way, either because the Tolkien estate believes that their understanding of J. R. R. Tolkien's legacy is not for sale, or because it is for sale but for a price not yet paid. And yes, those lawyers will get their share too, out of the profits from the sale of JRRT's books and the royalties from the films.

So, although saying ironically that "the lawyers will win the suit", as if the entire affair is nonsensical make-work for legal drones, reflects a very common cynicism we all share about the amazing impenetrability of the legal process these days, in fact it looks to me like it's not the lawyers who will win, but one of the actual parties to the suit, to the tune of (take your pick) their family's honor, or money in the nine figures.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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(This post was edited by squire on Sep 22 2013, 2:55am)


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Sep 23 2013, 4:22am

Post #10 of 13 (79 views)
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Thank you [In reply to] Can't Post

That was very well said, indeed.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Loresilme
Valinor


Sep 24 2013, 3:34pm

Post #11 of 13 (59 views)
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Can it only end with a winner and a loser? [In reply to] Can't Post

In this type of lawsuit, is there any possibility of a middle-ground resolution or compromise? In your July summary (thank you very much for all your summaries. I would not be able to understand this matter without them :-)), you mentioned a few aspects:

- the films
- online games
- slot machines
- potential theme park

Would it be possible, for instance, for an agreement to be reached which says, (for example) that the films and online games are "ok", however slot machines and theme parks are "not ok"? Whether either side would choose to do something like that if they could no one can guess, but my question is, is it even possible - can there be a resolution which is, essentially, a compromise? Or can it now only end in an all or nothing decision?


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Sep 24 2013, 3:47pm

Post #12 of 13 (57 views)
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Most lawsuits end in a negotiated settlement [In reply to] Can't Post

It is hard to say what will happen here. Right now, it looks like the sides are very far apart. But that is usually the case. It certainly was in the last Tolkien v. New Line case, and that settled. But I really can't predict.

Even if it doesn't settle, there is a good likelihood that the courts will rule partially on one side, and partially on the other.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Loresilme
Valinor


Sep 25 2013, 12:20pm

Post #13 of 13 (53 views)
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Thanks [In reply to] Can't Post

I was hoping there was the option of settling and/or a compromise.

And thank you again for your 'translations' - very much appreciated Smile.

 
 

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