Jenner & Block

Team Wins Victory in Hobbit Trademark Matter

Jenner & Block Partner Andrew J. Thomas and Associates Julia B. Cherlow, Lisa J. Kohn and Daniel D. Welsh scored another victory for their movie studio clients in an ongoing trademark infringement litigation against a production company trying to distribute a movie similarly titled to the movie studios’ blockbuster The Hobbit.   At issue is Global Asylum’s efforts to release a film called Age of the Hobbits.   Last year, clients Warner Bros. Entertainment, New Line Cinema and MGM Studios sued Global Asylum, accusing it of pursuing a business model intended to confuse and mislead consumers.  In January, a U.S. District judge granted a preliminary injunction that barred the production company from advertising, selling or distributing any film titled Age of the Hobbits or using any mark that is similar to The Hobbit or The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.   Global Asylum appealed, asking the Ninth Circuit to lift the injunction on the ground that Asylum’s use of the Hobbit mark was protected as a nominative fair use.  Andrew argued the appeal on October 7, and on October 30, 2013, a panel of Ninth Circuit judges denied Global Asylum’s appeal and affirmed the district court’s ruling in its entirety.  News of the Ninth Circuit’s decision was reported in Law360.