IncGamers recently interviewed the licensing team over at Saul Zaentz/Tolkien Enterprises. Fredrica Drotos, Sam Benson and Joe Mandragona deal with contractual negotiations, licensing issues, and monitoring all licensees to make sure that everything remains true to the lore of J. R. R. Tolkien.

    Some interesting quotes from the interview:
  • "We have an idea of what the Tolkien Estate likes and our opinion coincides with theirs. We feel that we have a good understanding because we’ve had a long relationship with the estate, over 30 years now. We know there are certain aspects of storytelling that would not be appropriate for this fiction. Given that our license allows for there to be some creativity, some expansion of what already exists. But we do have to be mindful that it’s consistent."
  • "So we do more board games and jewelry and goblets and things that appear in the lore which manifest in some other way. We need to check that they fit the expectations of the lore and the estate, but we even have to go through the legal lines and all the other mundane things like that. So another example, if lore is quoted, it should be quoted accurately and appropriately."
  • Speaking about the next company to have license to make computer games now that EA no longer has it: "we’re now in negotiations, but we haven’t finalised a deal but we’re very close. There are going to be Lord of the Rings games of course, but there will also be The Hobbit games too, based on the films."
  • "As for application: we’re a pretty open company and you can come to us and say, “I have an idea” and if you could legitimately follow through with the idea, we’ll talk to you."
  • On unlicensed materials: "A lot of the problems come from the people who believe they have some ownership of the lore and feel like they can do whatever they want with it. It falls upon us to explain to them that they can’t. Sometimes that really hurts because it’s not an easy thing to do....Every once in a while we like what people are doing and set up a license for them! We would prefer it if people came to us first though."
  • "If people are doing it out of love and there is no commercial exploitation out of it, we support it I suppose you could say. We understand it and appreciate it and would hope to allow it to co-exist. When it goes into the commercial world it becomes more complicated because a lot of that is down to trademark laws and how much exploitation you can allow on your mark before you give up on it, so to speak."

The interview can be read in full here: ... Gamers-Tolkien-IP-License