The first “Save the Shire” press release is replicated below. If you wish to download this as a formal release for press purposes you can download a PDF by clicking here.
Amidst euphoric celebration, both online and in a little pub in Southampton, the campaign to “Save The Hobbit Pub” was successful in changing the mind of the mighty Saul Zaentz company about pursuing the plucky little pub for alleged trademark infringement – but was The Hobbit truly saved? Worryingly, extensive research by Middle-earth Network, a Tolkien and fantasy community website built by fans, has unearthed disturbing evidence about the actions of Saul Zaentz Company that could even threaten the historical fabric of Great Britain.
Mark Ostley, director of operations at Middle-earth Network, explained “We have discovered that Saul Zaentz Company, amongst countless other trademark filings, is attempting to trademark the word ‘Shire’. We don’t know why. We don’t understand why. But to us it indicates a greed in trying to buy up anything to do with Tolkien’s work, ahead of the fans, and ahead of the Tolkien family.”
“Shire is, of course, a word that is at the very heart of Great Britain and it is from that heart that Professor Tolkien named the land of hobbits “Shire”. What could this mean for British life if such a trademark were granted? What could it mean for the 52 British “shires” if an American company were granted trademark over such a vital part of British national identity?”
Middle-earth Network has launched a campaign to “Save the Shire”, aiming to draw attention to the actions of Saul Zaentz Company not only in their attempts to trademark “shire” but in their continuing actions against 2 small businesses, actions that have been largely forgotten in the wave of sympathy for The Hobbit Pub.
The Hungry Hobbit sandwich bar in Birmingham, based alongside historic sites associated with Tolkien, has been targetted by Saul Zaentz Company for using the word “hobbit” in their name. Despite being established over 6 years, Saul Zaentz Company only wrote to owner Wendy Busst a few months ago, demanding she change the name of the business she bought as a going concern.
A 2-man small business in Fife, Scotland has also found themselves under the scrutiny of Saul Zaentz company for using the word “hobbit”. “We suspect that Saul Zaentz Company may have filed a request to grant trademark for ‘non-metal storage sheds’ in relation to the word ‘hobbit’ with the intention of taking action against the Scottish small business,” explained Middle-earth Network director of operations Mark Ostley, “and since then the small business has found itself subject to a series of legal threats.”
“We feel its very unfair that there should be one rule for one and one rule for another,” continued Ostley, “so Middle-earth Network has decided to instruct trademark lawyer Aaron Hall to contact Saul Zaentz company on behalf of the Hungry Hobbit and the Scottish small business to request that they offer the same licensing deal to them as they offered to The Hobbit Pub. We’ll also be going all-out to “Save the Shire” by contesting the attempt by Saul Zaentz Company to trademark ‘shire’ ”
“While we respect the rights of the Saul Zaentz Company to protect, police, and enforce it’s trademark, we want them to do it responsibly,” continued Ostley, “and we invite them to see this as a new era of understanding and conciliation with the fans of the world that J.R.R. Tolkien created. We are pleading with you to work with the fans, and not against us. It will be to your benefit as much as ours.”