Movie studio threatens the Hobbit pub

Even Frodo would have a hard time fighting off these attorneys, who are acting more like Sauron.


Fernando Alfonso III


Published Mar 14, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 8:02 pm CDT

For the second time in four months, the company that owns the rights to English author J. R. R. Tolkien’s books is threatening legal action against a pub for copyright infringement.

And the masses on Twitter, including English actor Stephen Fry (who will star in the upcoming film The Hobbit), are crying foul.

For more than 20 years The Hobbit in Southamton, England, has been a place for patrons to enjoy live music and Lord of the Rings themed drinks. The pub was recently threatened with legal action for copyright infringement from lawyers representing Saul Zaentz Company (SZC), a Berkeley-based film company that “controls worldwide merchandising rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings,” reported The Guardian.

“We were absolutely stunned. It was completely unexpected, we never intended to infringe anyone’s copyright,” pub landlady Stella Mary Roberts told the BBC. “Are we doing any harm? I don’t think so. We’re bringing people to the books and the stories who haven’t heard of JRR Tolkien. … We don’t have the financial resources to fight it – I can’t fight Hollywood.”

Roberts’s story touched thousands of people on Twitter who have since lent their support to the English pub to make sure it does not rebrand itself.

“Honestly, @savethehobbit, sometimes I’m ashamed of the business I’m in,” tweeted Fry to his four million Twitter followers. “What pointless, self-defeating bullying.”

Over the last 24 hours, more than 2,000 people have used the hashtag #savethehobbit to rally support and direct people to Facebook where more than 31,000 people have liked a petition page.

“I used to work for SZC’s attorney who has since retired. I wish SZC would cut this shit out,” commented Joanne Mendoza on Facebook. “ They and Fantasy Records would go after any and everyone who dared use anything owned by either company.”

In November SZC made a similar threat to a Birmingham, England, cafe called The Hungry Hobbit, telling the small business to “‘phase out’ the use of the name on menus, websites, signs and ‘other materials on which the Hobbit mark or related marks have been displayed,’” reported the BBC.

And it doesn’t end there.

According to the Save The Hobbit Facebook page, a small English camping business called Microlodge UK has also received legal documents from SZC telling them to cease production of its Hobbit-inspired homes.

The Daily Dot has reached out to both to SZC and Microlodge UK for a comment and is waiting to hear back.

Photo from The Hobbit

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*First Published: Mar 14, 2012, 6:40 pm CDT