Tolkien estate forces summer camp to drop LOTR-inspired name

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

Can the word "Rivendell" be owned? The J.R.R. Tolkien estate seems to think so, because it recently stopped a Canadian summer camp from going by that name "to preserve the integrity of the Tolkien works."

This Rivendell wasn't for elves, but was instead a camp run by the Bragg Creek Community Association as a way for kids in Calgary to escape the city. At least until the U.K.-based lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter, which said in part:

"While our clients do not believe that you intended to infringe their intellectual property rights, you will understand that they have an obligation to protect these valuable rights and carefully to preserve the integrity of the Tolkien works."

In response to the letter, the community association has changed the name of the camp to Camp in the Creek.

But—can the word Rivendell really be owned? We're not lawyers, and don't pretend to be, but considering the fact that a quick Google search immediately turns up the Rivendell Bicycle Works, Rivendell Behavioral Health Services, the Rivendell Winery and dozens of other Rivendell-named companies, that doesn't entirely seem possible.

What do you think? Was the Tolkien estate right?

(via CBC News)