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Lawyers of Mordor menace Hobbit boozer

Gandalf moves to protect Southampton pub

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Brit thesp Sir Ian McKellen has joined the campaign to protect Southampton boozer The Hobbit from the forces of darkness - Californian attack lawyers who claim the pub has infringed their client's trademark.

The BBC explains that the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) has dispatched a missive to the Portswood hostelry pointing out it has "exclusive worldwide rights to motion picture, merchandising, stage and other rights in certain literary works of JRR Tolkien including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit".

The pub – which has traded as The Hobbit for 20 years – must now rebrand, desist in serving "Frodo" and "Gandalf" cocktails, and remove Lord of the Rings actor Elijah Wood's handsome mug from its loyalty card.

Landlady Stella Mary Roberts said: "We were absolutely stunned. It was completely unexpected; we never intended to infringe anyone's copyright. Are we doing any harm? I don't think so. We're bringing people to the books and the stories who haven't heard of JRR Tolkien."

She added: "We don't have the financial resources to fight it – I can't fight Hollywood."

Roberts won't have to face Tinsel Town's attack alone, however. Locals have mobilised to fight back via the obligatory Facebook campaign, and Gandalf weighed into the fray yesterday when Ian McKellen took time from shooting The Hobbit in New Zealand to protest SZC's "unnecessary pettiness".

McKellen, whose roles outside the cinema include that of leaseholder of historic London pub The Grapes, promises to visit The Hobbit in person "once filming is over in July". ®

Bootnote

Thanks to reader Stephen Phillips for the tip-off.

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