Last month Jan and Ed Lengyel decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign for the Hobbit house they’re building at their Suffolk countryside campsite.
The married couple are running a successful holiday ‘glamping‘ (glamorous camping) business and thought the idyllic location would be very suitable for small house inspired by the popular movie.
The project received a lot of positive press and thousands of pounds were raised in the days that followed. However, lawyers at Warner Bros. and the Tolkien estate were less enthusiastic.
Following a complaint from Warner Bros. the Kickstarter campaign was pulled offline without warning. The movie studio didn’t want the couple to use Hobbit references arguing that they infringe on their copyrights and trademarks.
Faced with the sudden removal the Suffolk couple saw no other option than to give in to the demands and started editing the page.
“Due to Copyright issues with Warner Bros. & Tolkien Estate, all references to Tolkien & The Hobbit have been removed,” a message on Kickstarter now reads.
As a result the “Poddit Hole” house now resides in ‘Centre-Earth’ instead of ‘Middle-Earth,’ and several other references were removed as well. However, that didn’t end the trouble.
Lawyers from the Tolkien Estate claim that ‘Centre Earth’ is too similar and want ‘Poddit Hole’ gone too. In fact, the lawyers ask the couple to remove all words that rhyme with Hobbit.
“The Tolkien Estate has asked us not to use ‘Poddit Hole’, which is absolutely ridiculous. We have got to call the project something, what would they like us to call it?” Ed Lengyel tells Daily Mail.
“Even though we have bent over backwards to meet their demands they are still wanting more,” she adds.
The campsite owners say they don’t want to damage the brand. On the contrary, they want to give visitors the option to enjoy the Hobbit experience.
“We are not trying to damage their brand or do anything offensive and there’s a lot of local and national interest in the project,” Lengyel says.
That’s exactly what the problem is. Warner Bros. and the Tolkien Estate don’t want others to use their intellectual property to entertain people. Unless it’s properly licensed of course.
This isn’t the first time that the Hobbit trademark and copyrights have caused trouble in Britain. Previously Hollywood lawyers went after a little pub in Southampton which had been using the Hobbit name for the past 20 years.