If you have followed all the off-screen drama related to the film adaptation of “The Hobbit,” you know that teams of lawyers have been central to the nearly unbelievable plot. There is a history of legal maneuvering that stretches back around Middle-earth movies for decades.

LOTR_Online_Slots.jpgIn the current round of court battles the Tolkien Estate brought a lawsuit in Nov. 2012 against Warner Bros. for $80 million that centered on online slot machines and digital merchandise. By March, WB and the Middle-earth Enterprises (that owns the rights purchased from J.R.R. Tolkien and grants them to Warner Bros.) filed a counter-claim saying the lawsuit had damaged them and undermined rights to the property.

The Estate, and an entity called The Fourth Age Ltd. filed to dismiss the counter suit, saying it was simply a legal move to get rid of the original suit. The victory for Warners and Middle-earth Enterprises was judge Audrey Collins stamping a “denied” against the motion to dismiss, allowing the suit to go forward. As you might guess, it is far from settled and many lawyers will collect significant money yet hashing it all out. Most of our information comes from Deadline.com where you can read more details if you wish, including the six-page decision. Kudos to Deadline for its reporting but their decision to watermark this public document is a tad silly.

Deadline’s latest story can be found here. There are others, including by bizjournals.com, while Deadline’s story about the original suit can be read here.

The judge concludes with some clear language:

“For the foregoing reasons, Fourth Age’s Motions to Dismiss Amended Counterclaims and Special Motions to Strike Amended Counterclaims (docket nos. 40, 41, 42, and 43) are DENIED