Fry weighs in on Hobbit pub row

Last updated 11:21 14/03/2012
The Hobbit Pub
The Hobbit Pub

MY PRECIOUS: Graffiti-style paintings of characters from author JRR Tolkien's fantasy novels on the walls of the popular English pub The Hobbit.

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British actor Stephen Fry says he is ''ashamed'' of the film industry following news a popular English pub called The Hobbit is being threatened with legal action.

Fry, who is in Wellington filming Sir Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, this morning tweeted: "Honestly, @savethehobbit, sometimes I'm ashamed of the business I'm in. What pointless, self-defeating bullying".

He was replying to an appeal by Save the Hobbit, asking him to "please help us save our local Lord-of-the-Rings-themed pub". A Facebook group fighting for the survival of the pub was rapidly collecting likes today.

The popular Southampton music venue has traded with the name for more than 20 years, the Mail Online reported.

It also has colourful graffiti-style paintings of characters from author JRR Tolkien's fantasy novels on its walls, and its cocktails and shots are named after the characters,

Lawyers representing the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) in California have told the pub it must carry out a complete rebranding before the end of May, or face legal action due to copyright infringement.

SZC owns the worldwide rights to several brands associated with Tolkien, including The Hobbit and its much more complex sequel The Lord of the Rings, which Jackson has already made into three films.

Landlady Stella Roberts said she was taking legal advice but did not have the financial resources to fight a big company.

The pub's name had never been a problem.

"It has always been a tribute to Tolkien's work and not a case of us jumping on a commercial bandwagon.

"I believe the decision to target us now was prompted by the release of the film," she said.

"It's a real blow for me, our customers and staff. We are all Tolkien fans and I don't see what harm we are doing."

A campaign to save the Hobbit pub name has been launched on the internet and attracted more than 3000 followers.

The BBC reported that the building's owner, Punch Taverns, was consulting its legal advisers.

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