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"Just weeks before The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is due to theaters, Warner Bros. is facing a high-profile lawsuit. The Tolkien estate has sued the company for $80 million, claiming Warner Bros. is "usurping rights to which they are not entitled" with regards to Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit merchandising materials, specifically virtual slot machines and online games.
The thrust of the suit (obtained by The Hollywood Reporter) is the Tolkien estate's assertion that Warner Bros. has violated a decades-old rights agreement that allows the company to create only "tangible" merchandise based on Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and not digital offerings."