After years of somehow getting away with audacious titles like Transmorphers, Snakes on a Train, Terminators (plural!), and Titanic 2, low-budget production company Asylum is for apparently just the third time getting hit with a lawsuit telling them this is sort of illegal.
Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, MGM, and producer Saul Zaentz have reportedly filed suit again Asylum for their straight-to-video production Age of the Hobbits, arguing that the DVD cover's warning that "they're not Tolkien's hobbits... they're real," and the similar warning that Bai Ling and a guy from Stargate SG-1 are the stars, still might--in the words of the suit--"divert customers and potential customers away from the [non-bullshit] Hobbit films."
Responding to the legal action, Asylum is basically going with the "it's fine to generically call it 'velcro' because everyone calls it that anyway" argument, but about pygmy humanoids instead of hook-and-loop fasteners. According to a spokesperson for Age of the Hobbits, the "Hobbits" they're referring to are Homo floresiensis, a small, long-extinct species that archaeologists have nicknamed "hobbits," thus making use of the term "protected under the legal doctrines of nominal and traditional fair use," they hope. Like how you can call a movie Titanic 2 as long as there's a faint understanding that it's not a sequel to the movie; it's a sequel to the boat.
A judge didn't quite see it so cut and dry, unfortunately, and yesterday gave the plaintiffs a temporary restraining order against Age of the Hobbits, which was set to be the disappointing gift of the season from the oblivious mothers of Hobbit fans. Warner Bros. quickly issued a statement calling this a victory over a "cynical business model," but Asylum has already promised to fight back, just as the small, peace-loving, non-fantastical Hobbits fought back against the cannibalistic, dragon-riding Java Men during THE AGE OF THE HOBBITS. After all, this is the only real business model they have, and they've apparently had success sheepishly defending it before:
"The Asylum has produced and released over 100 films and we have been sued twice for trademark infringement. The first action we won outright and in the second we came to a mutually beneficial settlement with a longtime partner. We like our record on these matters and intend to vigorously defend our rights."
Here's the Age of the Hobbits trailer, if you want to torture yourself with all the enslaved pygmies and "guy with the medallion forehead" from Stargate you could have otherwise been watching at home right now.