A Southampton pub is at the heart of a dispute over copyright law after falling out with the American owners of the marketing rights to the forthcoming film adaptation of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit, the Saul Zaentz Company (SCZ).
The Hobbit pub in Portswood has carried its name for well over 20 years, and enjoys its association with the famous book, offering themed 'Frodo' and 'Gandalf' cocktails on its menu and showing the face of the film star Elijah Wood on its student loyalty card.
However, the pub attracted attention from the major American corporation, who commenced legal proceedings to ask the pub to cease infringing their worldwide copyright over several brands associated with JRR Tolkien.
SCZ producer Paul Zaentz said international laws of trademark meant that they had no choice but to act to halt infringements of its brands.
The actions of SCZ have caused outrage, with some 60,000 supporters taking to Facebook to support the pub in its legal fight. Actor and celebrity Stephen Fry, who stars in the new Hobbit film out this Christmas, called the actions of SCZ "self-defeating bullying", whilst fellow actor Sir Ian McKellen who played Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings franchise also criticised SCZ.
SCZ are now in negotiations with the landlady of the pub, offering to licence use of the trademarks for a nominal $100 per annum. The landlady, Stella Roberts, said that she was not allowed to comment on the negotiations as she has signed a non-disclosure agreement.
"We're living in limbo here. We just want the whole thing finished," she told the BBC.
"We just don't know what to do. We've been advised to carry on trading as we were, because we haven't got a lot of choice," she added.
The pub ran a fundraising party this weekend to raise money for legal fees.