Stephen Fry and Ian McKellen pay to save The Hobbit pub from trademark trolls

You've probably heard that an old pub called The Hobbit in Southampton is under threat from the film company that controls the licensing for the Tolkien canon. After a public outcry, the company agreed to sell the pub a license to go on using the name it has had for decades. Stephen Fry and Ian McKellan — who are both in the Hobbit movie (Fry is in NZ right now, shooting) — decided that this was stupid, so they've paid the license fee themselves.

She said: "I had a telephone call on Saturday evening, while we were trading, from Stephen Fry's business partner and manager. That's when he told me.

"I was very shocked.

"They've said as soon as they finish filming they would like to come down and visit the pub."

…Sir Ian, who plays Gandalf in the Lord Of The Rings films, described the film company's actions as "unnecessary pettiness" and Fry said it was "self-defeating bullying".

Hobbit pub copyright row: Stephen Fry and Ian McKellen to pay licence (via Techdirt)

Update: Simon Phipps writes, "The Hobbit is one of my locals, and I thought you'd like some background. I wrote about the case here. While the pub has existed for a long time, The Hobbit started opportunistically abusing their movie-related paraphernalia a while back and has been trading on it for years without seeking permission – presumably because someone there knew they'd never get it. They could have commissioned their own artwork but they didn't. Far from it being a case of a bully acting improperly, I think actually Zaentz acted uncharacteristically well here. This wasn't about the pub calling itself 'The Hobbit' primarily, it was about ripping off movie stills and using them for advertising. They challenged that abuse and then offered an amazingly easy settlement. Meanwhile, instead of any sign of a mea culpa, some people have been wildly slandering Zaentz. Given how much the law sucks and is being weaponised, I think we should be encouraging previously abusive companies like Zaentz to act this generously in future."