Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, MGM, and Saul Zaentz claim The Asylum is “free-riding” on the campaign to promote Peter Jackson’s upcoming Hobbit films, and do not want the word “hobbit” used in the title of a “knockoff film.”
Hobbit producers have called it an “intentional and wilful attempt to trade on the popularity and goodwill” of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films, as well as the novels by JRR Tolkien, on which they are based.
The producers also want all infringing packaging and advertising material for Age of the Hobbits to be destroyed, as it could “divert customers and potential customers away from the Hobbit films.”
Age of the Hobbits is due for a DVD and online release on December 11, just three days before The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in the US.
Although court papers not that The Aylum’s film bears a “confusingly similar and misleading title,” the company claims its movie is legally sound, as its hobbits are not based on Tolkien’s creations, but instead on the real-life human subspecies Homo floresiensis (once nicknamed “hobbits”). The company added that as a result, the term is “protected under the legal doctrines of nominal and fair trade use.”