“Save the Shire” declares Middle-earth Network

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.”

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5 Responses to “Save the Shire” declares Middle-earth Network

  1. Mark, this is a fantastic article, and told from an absolutely terrific point of view! Keep it up!

  2. Jim Bright says:

    I would be very surprised if this nasty little company could impose its “trademark” rights on the word ‘shire’ in the UK, I would imagine they would be laughed out of court. There would be no effect on British life as suggested in the article as such a preposterous thing simply wouldnt happen.
    I even question the fact that they have the right to stop people using the word ‘Hobbit’ under English law and personally I wouldnt even be prepared to listen to any “licensing deal” these people offered before actually reading up on if they can do this. I would be interested to see how far they got if it ever went to court.
    Because of the behaviour and actions of this company I will not be purchasing any of their products in the future and will not be watching any film or production that they have any involvement in. In short, they will not get another penny off of me, ever. I urge others to do the same.

  3. Runesdaeg says:

    You can’t trademark a basic English word like “Shire”. You can trademark the word in a certain font and colour, but you simply can’t trademark the word itself.
    Shires and the English language predate copyright law at least a thousand years, it’s ludicrous to think the SZ company is going to actually get away with this.

  4. Avatar of Josh Radke Josh Radke says:

    He’s gotten away with trademarking “Middle-earth” thus far as well, so why not “Shire” (in his mind)…

    Ludicrous indeed.

  5. Stuntie says:

    How can he trademark Middle-Earth? Are there conditions – i.e. only copy-righted when used in reference to Tolkeins work? Or is it a general blanket copyright? The very term is from Old Norse Midgard. Does that mean he can now sue the NNorse Gods themselves? Or any Mythological book about the Norse Panteon?

    Also what right does he have to trade-mark it anyway?
    If it is connection with Tolkeins work, then it belongs to Tolkien and his estate. What exactly are the terms of the deal he secured with the Tolkien estate?
    Is he breaching those terms with general way too wide blanket actions?
    Is he trying to steal their intellectual property rights?

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