By Laura Payne 29/03 Updated: 29/03 10:51
THE campaign to save the under threat Hungry Hobbit cafe has received the backing of a JRR Tolkien fan group.
The Middle-earth Network has stepped up to instruct a lawyer on behalf of the cafe in Moseley owned by Wendy Busst from Solihull.
Mrs Busst is fighting to keep the name for the cafe, which is close to locations that inspired Tolkien, after being threatened with legal action by the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) which owns some Tolkien brands and accused the cafe of copyright infringement.
The Middle-earth Network is also supporting another company in Scotland which has been using the word hobbit while Southampton pub The Hobbit, which was also threatened with legal action, has been saved thanks to high profile support from actors Sir Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry who said they will pay the copyright licence fee demanded by SZC.
Mrs Busst said: "We are hopeful that we will be able to reach a suitable deal with SZC. We raised the possibility of a nominal licence fee with them in November last year, which they did not come back to us on instead asking us to phase out the name.
"On speaking to Middle-earth Network they suggested that SZC backed down over the Southampton pub because of the force of the publicity and public support, but there is no guarantee that they will follow the same route with our business.
"We can only wait and hope and do our best to raise awareness and public support."
Staff at the Hungry Hobbit have considered removing the 'H' from the name or reversing one of the letter 'b's to settle the dispute.
Mark Ostley, director of operations at Middle-earth Network, said they hope the same licence will be offered to the Hungry Hobbit as has been offered to The Hobbit.
He said: "While we respect the rights of the Saul Zaentz Company to protect, police and enforce its trademark, we want them to do it responsibly and we invite them to see this as a new era of understanding and conciliation with the fans of the world that JRR Tolkien created."
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