The Tolkien Estate is the legal body which manages the property of the English writer J. R. R. Tolkien, including the copyright in his works. The individual copyrights have for the most part been assigned by the Estate to subsidiary entities such as the J. R. R. Tolkien Discretionary Settlement and the Tolkien charitable Trust. The various holdings of the Tolkien family, including the Estate, have been organised under The Tolkien Company, the directors of which are Christopher Tolkien, his wife Baillie Tolkien, and the Professor's grandson Michael George Tolkien. The executors of the Estate proper are Christopher Tolkien, who is sole literary executor, and (succeeding Professor Tolkien's lawyer Frank Williamson) Cathleen Blackburn of Maier Blackburn, who has also been the Estate's solicitor for many years.
The film and merchandise rights for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were sold by J.R.R. Tolkien in 1969, and are currently owned by Middle-earth Enterprises (formerly Tolkien Enterprises), a company that was controlled by Saul Zaentz.
In November 2012, the Tolkien Estate, trustee and publishers sued Middle-earth Enterprises, Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema for infringing Tolkien's copyrights by producing casino and video games using his characters. The original license to Tolkien's works was limited to the right to sell "tangible" products such as "figurines, tableware, stationery items, clothing, and the like", but did not cover "electronic or digital rights, rights in media yet to be devised or other intangibles such as rights in services". Tolkien's estate claimed that the defendants actions had caused "irreparable harm to Tolkien's legacy".
- "cathleen blackburn". maier blackburn. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- "Tolkien estate sues Hobbit producers over video and gambling games". The Guardian. 20 November 2012.
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