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Judge halts release of 'Age of Hobbits' 'knockoff' movie

Dec. 11, 2012 at 7:37 AM ET

Asylum Home Entertainment /
"Age of the Hobbits."

In the case of Hobbit vs. Hobbit, "Hobbit" wins. (Yeah, that's pretty confusing, but you'll understand in a moment.) A California federal judge has granted Warner Bros.' motion for a temporary restraining order on "Age of the Hobbits," indie film company Asylum's low-budget rip-off of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," which hits theaters Dec. 14, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"The majority of factors weigh in favor of a finding of likelihood of confusion, and no factor weighs against such a finding," Judge Philip Gutierrez said in the ruling Monday.

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"Moreover, the finding is particularly strong on the three factors that courts have found to be the most important, especially in the context of the Internet: similarity of the marks, relatedness of the goods and use of similar marketing channels."

Producers of "The Hobbit" filed the lawsuit last month, accusing them of creating a "knockoff" movie based on J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy novel and infringing on their trademark on the word hobbits.

Asylum's lawyers fired back, claiming their use of hobbits is fair, since it references a term used by archaeologists, not the Tolkien character, but the judge wasn't having it.

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"Asylum's argument appears to ignore the connection between the term used to describe Homo Floresiensis and Tolkien's hobbits," the judge writes. "Asylum treats the use of the two terms as completely unrelated, but the terms are in fact closely related: Scientists gave Homo Floresiensis the nickname 'Hobbit' because its appearance resembled Tolkien's hobbits, as described in his novels.... Given that Homo Floresiensis received the nickname 'Hobbit' specifically because of its resemblance to Tolkien's fictional hobbits, the Court finds Asylum's argument that its movie is wholly unrelated to Tolkien's work because it is about Homo Floresiensis to be disingenuous."

"Age of the Hobbits," a film about a "last village of clever, peace-loving Hobbits ... attacked and enslaved by Java Men, komodo-worshiping, dragon-riding cannibals," was scheduled to release tomorrow.

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