Warner Bros. officially trying to kill that Hobbit mockbuster

Contributed by
Jan 14, 2013, 2:52 PM EST

We'd heard the folks at Warner Bros. were none too happy with the upcoming mockbuster Age of the Hobbits—and now the studio behind The Hobbit has officially pulled the trigger in an effort to kill the direct-to-DVD rival.

After threatening to sue for copyright infringement several weeks ago, Warner Bros. has now filed suit against mockbuster studio The Asylum, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The studio claims the phrase "Hobbit," made famous by Hobbit and Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien, is copyrighted material being used illegally by the "knockoff" film. Warner Bros. is asking that all offending advertising and packaging material be pulled and destroyed.

Here's a choice tidbit from the legal complaint:

"The Asylum has been and is promoting and advertising its low-budget film using the confusingly similar and misleading title Age of the Hobbits, in an intentional and willful attempt (i) to trade on the popularity and goodwill associated with the Tolkien novels, the extraordinarily successful Lord of The Rings film trilogy, and the famous HOBBIT mark, (ii) to free-ride on the worldwide advertising campaign in connection with the forthcoming Hobbit films, and (iii) to divert customers and potential customers away from the Hobbit films."
To this point The Asylum has maintained that the phrase is up for fair use, after being adopted by scientists a few years ago to describe a smaller stage of humanoids. Though the storyline has a few components that sound familiar, the synopsis provided by The Asylum does have some major differences when compared to Tolkien's classic:
"In an ancient age, the small, peace-loving Hobbits are enslaved by the Java Men, a race of flesh-eating dragon-riders. The young Hobbit Goben must join forces with their neighbor giants, the humans, to free his people and vanquish their enemies."
With both films set for release in early to mid-December, it'll be interesting to see how this one plays out in the coming weeks.

What do you think? Is this a ripoff that deserves to be stopped, or fair use?

(Via The Hollywood Reporter)