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A Pokie too far for Lord of the Rings?

The Lord of the Rings is an incredible world-wide phenomenon, and the online pokie that has been a massive hit at online casinos around the world is very much a part of the franchise’s success, alongside action figures, books, memorabilia and more.

Or so we thought. It seems that there might be a fly in the ointment for Warner Bros., developers of the pokie that has been one of the most successful of recent times, and a headline attraction for its great gameplay and regular jackpot payouts.

Tolkien’s estate, with support from publisher Harper Collins, has started legal proceedings, and is searching for US$80million in damages for what they argue is unauthorised merchandising by Warner Bros. No doubt the case will run and run, and will be more complicated than we have the time to cover here, but the timing seems a little suspicious to us, with The Hobbit on the eve of its release (the first of the three films, anyway...).

From what we can gather, the original deal between the companies, which dates back to 1969, grants the right to create ‘tangible merchandise’, and it will be argued over the course of the (probably very long) legal dispute that a digital pokie doesn’t count as ‘tangible merchandise’.

The complaint further argues that the original agreement ‘did not include any grant of exploitations such as electronic or digital rights, rights in media yet to be devised or other intangibles such as rights in service.’ On top of that, the estate claims that ‘Gambling constitutes a further category of rights which have never been granted to defendants (and which the plaintiffs themselves would never intend to exploit).’

Which all sounds pretty dry to us, but does include quite an interesting point for lovers of the online casinos (and the mobile casinos) and the groundbreaking new pokies that hit them almost every month.

The lawyers look like they’re more than a couple of steps behind the pace of innovation at the online casinos (and again, and maybe even more so, the mobile casinos). The key thing for us – and for Australian pokies fans, too – is that The Lord of the Rings is a great pokie that millions have enjoyed over its lifetime, and we’d be sad to see it killed off by a legal dispute. Watch this space, but don’t hold your breath for news...

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