Tolkien Enterprises Sues Sierra

The Tolkien license backing Sierra's online RPG Middle-earth may be in jeopardy.

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Saul Zaentz Company, the parent company of Tolkien Enterprises, has filed a lawsuit against Sierra Studios with the aim of canceling the publisher's multigame Tolkien license. The exact reasons behind this action are not yet clear.

Sierra had announced two games based on the world of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy novels: a strategy game titled Orcs: Revenge of the Ancient and Middle Earth, an online RPG. Last fall, Sierra underwent a reorganization process that resulted in the cancellation of Orcs. During the same period, it was decided that Middle Earth would be redesigned and that development would be moved from Yosemite Entertainment, based in California, to Sierra's main studio in Washington.

With legal action pending, Sierra would not comment on the status of Middle Earth. Saul Zaentz Company could not be reached for comment.

GameSpot reported earlier this summer that New Line Cinema was interested in doing a video game tie-in for the upcoming Lord of the Rings movie. While these licensing issues are not necessarily related, Saul Zaentz Company may be moving to get the best use of its Tolkien properties with the first live-action movie less than a year and a half away.

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