Thursday, March 15, 2012
Nanny Bans Hobbit
As loyal readers know, Nanny tends to ban things that she doesn't understand or that threaten her authority over us. However, sometimes, the motivation for a ban or infringement of freedom is simply money.
Thus I am sorry to say that The Hobbit pub in Southampton (a pub that has been using that name for around 20 years) has found itself on the receiving end of the threat of litigation by US lawyers representing Nanny's chums from the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) in California.
SZC owns the worldwide rights to several brands associated with author JRR Tolkien, including The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings.
Unfortunately, the pub features characters from Tolkien's stories on its signs, has "Frodo" and "Gandalf" cocktails on the menu, and the face of Lord of the Rings film star Elijah Wood on its loyalty card.
Needless to say this has not gone down well with SZC, and as such it has asked that the pub remove all references to the characters.
The Hobbit pub has set up a Facebook page to help save it. However, given that SZC has more money than those who run the pub it will be a battle that can only be won if SZC shows some humanity and charity, and finds a legally watertight way to allow this "infringement" to continue as a "one off" (so that others are not tempted to infringe its rights).
However, that "Damascus revelation" of charity may be unlikely, the Hobbit pub is not the only UK business to be served with a litigation notice from SZC.
The Hungry Hobbit cafe in Birmingham was also served with one in the latter end of 2011 (they too have a Facebook page). Their proposed solution to the threats from SZC will be to rename the cafe the "Hungry 'Obbit". However, it is not yet clear as to whether SZC will accept this.
Brand value and trademarks are very important in commerce. However, sometimes the damage to a company's brand value by appearing to some to be petty minded and greedy exceeds any alleged loss of revenue stream from minor infringements; ie a degree of commonsense and flexibility is required and will reap rewards.
Sadly, as loyal readers know, Nanny has long since banned commonsense and is remarkably inflexible.
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