January 30, 2013 1:04am PT by Matthew Belloni
Warner Bros. Wins Injunction Against 'Age of the Hobbits' Movie
Warner Bros., the studio behind The Hobbit, has won another victory against a small studio that attempted to release a film called Age of the Hobbits.
A federal judge on Tuesday granted Warner's request for a preliminary injunction against the distribution of any movie that incorporates the studio's "Hobbit" trademark. The 23-page ruling echoes a December temporary restraining order that prevented Global Asylum, which produced the direct-to-home-video Age of the Hobbits, from releasing the film under that title (it was subsequently renamed Clash of the Empires).
THR has covered this case extensively, and the judge's written ruling is good reading for those interested in trademark law and what words or phrases can be protected.
On Dec. 10, four days before Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was scheduled to hit theaters, U.S. District Court Judge Phillip Gutierrez issued a temporary restraining order and ruled that the latter movie likely was infringing the trademarks of the Warner Bros. property. Global Asylum argued that "Hobbits" actually referred to a prehistoric humanoid creature, not the invention of author J.R.R. Tolkien. That argument didn't fly with the judge.
"Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits," the new ruling states. "For the reasons discussed in the TRO Order, which do not require repetition in the present order, Plaintiffs have also demonstrated that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tip in their favor and that an injunction is in the public interest."