The family of JRR Tolkien are suing the producers of The Lord Of
The Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies in a row over damage to his
"legacy and reputation".
The author's estate has reportedly demanded Pounds 54 million from movie studio Warner Bros and subsidiary New Line Cinema in a wrangle over the use of his characters in online and gambling games.
Relatives of the writer, who grew up in Birmingham, said no deal was in place for the creations to be used in electronic media.
They also claimed the games had damaged Tolkien's reputation beyond repair.
The lawsuit said: "Not only does the production of gambling games patently exceed the scope of defendants' rights, but this infringing conduct has outraged Tolkien's devoted fan base, causing irreparable harm to Tolkien's legacy and reputation and the valuable goodwill generated by his works."
The family said lengthy discussions with the producers over the disagreement had proved fruitless.
They said they feared the scope of online merchandising would only increase with the release of the first Hobbit movie, An Unexpected Journey, next month.
Tolkien's heirs settled a lawsuit over the Lord Of The Rings films for an undisclosed amount in 2009, allowing production to proceed on The Hobbit. That lawsuit against New Line Cinema claimed Tolkien's trust received only an upfront payment of Pounds 39,300 for the three films before production began, but was due 7.5 per cent of the gross receipts.
The Rings films earned an estimated Pounds 3.7 billion from ticket sales, DVDs and merchandise.
Tolkien lived in Moseley from 1896 to 1900 and his fantasy land of Middle Earth was inspired by locations including Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog.
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