What happens when a perceived giant marries a perceived hobbit, one heck of a trademark battle. A mixed height couple is in a trademark dispute with the owner to the rights to the Lord of the Rings because of their “Giraffe & Hobbit” wine company name.Image of Giraffe/Hobbit Couple
“Giraffe” Elise and “Hobbit” Stuart Whittaker own a company named Giraffe & Hobbit that distributes wine in the UK. While the height difference looks pretty substanital in the photo there is only a four inch diffference between 5’10” Elise and 5’6″Stuart. For the last 15 months, the couple’s company imports French wine from small Shire-like vineyards to UK citizens. The couple went to register the trademark for the name of their business and ran into some big opposition.
The Saul Zaentz Company owns the worldwide exclusive rights to certain elements of J. R. R. Tolkien’s two most famous literary works, The Lord of the Rings and *The Hobbit. *Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, sold the film, stage and merchandising rights of these works to United Artists in 1968, who in turn sold them to The Saul Zaentz Company in 1976 which licenses them through Tolkien Enterprises. In 1978, Tolkien Enterprises and the distributor United Artists funded an animated version of The Lord of the Rings and the company licensed rights to Peter Jackson and company to make the six slightly less animated movies.
Image of Giraffe & Hobbit TrademarkOn March 30th, the couple will appear at a hearing at the Intellectual Property Office located in Newport, Wales after The Saul Zaentz Company filed a notice of threatened opposition after the couple applied for the registration. The couple argues that they have nothing to do with the movies and books and “hobbit” is a common word to describe smaller creatures.
Its an uphill battle in this real life David vs. Goliath battle for the couple. While the term has become somewhat generic, the HOBBIT trademark was created by Tolkien for his stories and the owner to rights of the series have strongly enforced it over the years. You can read about some of the other Hobbit-related legal battles here, including Gandalf’s battle with the dreaded Wizard of Weed. Hopefully, the sides can reach some compromise before the final battle begins.