Leave the quiet folk alone

14 March 2012
Rebecca Ellinor, managing editor, Supply ManagementA UK pub has apparently heard from lawyers in California who are unhappy about its name. The drinking and music venue in Southampton has been called ‘The Hobbit’ for more than 20 years, but now lawyers representing the company which owns the worldwide rights to brands associated with author JRR Tolkien, (including The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings) have been in touch to say it is infringing its copyright. On receiving the letter threatening action, landlady Stella Roberts, said: “I can't fight Hollywood.” There has, however, been local backing to help her try. A student has set up a ‘Save the Hobbit’ Facebook page, which has nearly 17,000 likes, to show its support, since rebranding would cost the pub thousands. And Stephen Fry has added his weight to the campaign. He recently tweeted ‘Honestly, @savethehobbit, sometimes I’m ashamed of the business I’m in. What pointless, self-defeating bullying.’ You can understand where the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) is coming from, what Roberts has done is, after all, illegal and SZC wants to be able to control everything associated with a brand it owns. But if it was trying to protect it’s own image, I think Fry’s got a point – it just lost that battle.
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