Wizard, you shall not eat infringing dessert! The estate of The Lord of the Rings creator, J.R.R. Tolkien, has opposed the trademark for a frozen donut called FRODOH claiming it is confusing with the famous Hobbit, Frodo.
If you though a donut wasn’t quite cold enough you have a new option. A Frodoh is a “scrumptious donut center coated with a delicious glaze, rolled in a crumbly topping, chilled to frozen perfection.” Frodohs (plural??) come in such flavors as banana nut, blueberry and s’mores. The treats can be purchased at the The Maryland Food Co-op found at the University of Maryland. In association with the treat, the college-aged founders filed a trademark registration for the FRODOH mark in a class that covers frozen desserts.
The Saul Zaentz Company owns the worldwide exclusive rights to certain elements of J.R.R. Tolkien’s two most famous literary works, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, sold the film, stage and merchandising rights of these works to United Artists in 1968, who in turn sold them to The Saul Zaentz Company in 1976 which licenses them through Tolkien Enterprises. In 1978, Tolkien Enterprises and the distributor United Artists funded an animated version of The Lord of the Rings and the company licensed rights to Peter Jackson and company to make the six slightly less animated movies.
SZ is known to be very protective of the Tolkien trademarks and routinely opposes and even sues over what it considers unauthorized use of its IP. Not only does SZ own several registered marks for FRODO but also FRODO’S PIZZA as well. Due to these marks, SZ argues that people are bound to be confused to think the frozen donuts are associated with The Lord of the Rings and its marks.
I doubt the small group has the money to take on the gold-filled pockets of SZ but it would be an interesting fight. When looking at the mark, it doesn’t make be think of the Hobbit but by hearing it, I would. When considering trademark confusion, not only the spelling but the sound and general impression of the mark are considered. This is truly a battle of the giant taking on the Hobbit and we shall see if the Hobbit is ready to fight or will get its big feet moving and run from the fight.