Tolkien fans may have been aware of an odd case going through the courts. In 2022, a writer named Demetrious Polychron self-published a book called The Fellowship of the King, claiming it was the ‘pitch-perfect sequel to The Lord of the Rings‘.
In April of this year, Polychron attempted to sue the Tolkien Estate and Amazon (for $250 million!), claiming that The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power TV series infringed copyright on his book. (This court document reveals letters Polychron wrote to Simon Tolkien – it makes for fascinating reading.) This case was dismissed by a judge – but Polychron had been unwise to draw such attention to his writing. The Tolkien Estate in turn filed a lawsuit to prevent distribution of Polychron’s derivative book, and the six sequels he had planned. Here’s what the Estate’s official press release tells us, about the conclusion of this extraordinary tale:
TOLKIEN ESTATE SUCCESSFUL IN COPYRIGHT CLAIMS OVER INFRINGING LORD OF THE RINGS ‘SEQUEL’
The Estate of JRR Tolkien has been successful in two lawsuits concerning a book named The Fellowship of the King by US-based author Demetrious Polychron.
Polychron published and commercially promoted the book, which he claimed to be “the pitch-perfect sequel to The Lord of the Rings.”
Polychron then commenced a lawsuit against the Tolkien Estate and Amazon in April of this year, claiming that Amazon’s TV series The Rings of Power infringed the copyright in his book. The US District Court summarily dismissed that case, finding that Polychron’s own book was infringing and could not be used as the basis for a claim.
The Tolkien Estate filed a separate lawsuit against Polychron for an injunction to prevent The Fellowship of the King from being further distributed.
In Judgments issued by Judge Steven V. Wilson on December 14, the Court awarded the Tolkien Estate summary judgment on its claim, granting a permanent injunction which prevents Polychron from ever distributing any further copies of The Fellowship of the King, his planned sequels to that book, or any other derivative work based on the books of JRR Tolkien. He is also required to destroy all physical and electronic copies of his book and to file a declaration, under penalty of perjury, that he has complied.
The Court also awarded attorney’s fees totalling $134,000 to the Tolkien Estate and Amazon in connection with Polychron’s lawsuit, which the Court found to have been frivolously and unreasonably filed.
Lance Koonce and Gili Karev of Klaris Law, New York, represented the Tolkien Estate.
The Estate’s UK solicitor, Steven Maier of Maier Blackburn, commented: “This is an important success for the Tolkien Estate, which will not permit unauthorized authors and publishers to monetize JRR Tolkien’s much-loved works in this way. This case involved a serious infringement of The Lord of the Rings copyright, undertaken on a commercial basis, and the Estate hopes that the award of a permanent injunction and attorneys’ fees will be sufficient to dissuade others who may have similar intentions.”