You may be familiar with film studio The Asylum, whose money-making tactic is releasing low-budget, unapologetic clones of Hollywood blockbuster with the utmost contemporaneousness. (See: Alien Vs. Hunter, Transmorphers). And for their upcoming "mockbuster" of The Hobbit — Age of the Hobbits — The Asylum is pulling some tortuous semantic gymnastics.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bai Ling star vehicle Age of the Hobbits (release date: December 11) has landed The Asylum in a legal Shelob web with the powers behind the cinematic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's book The Hobbit (release date: December 14):
Lawyers for Warner Bros. subsidiary New Line Cinema, which is producing The Hobbit, and The Zaentz Co., which controls trademark rights to the book, have threatened Burbank-based The Asylum, arguing that its upcoming Age of the Hobbits violates the trademark in the protected phrase and threatening legal action if it doesn't change the title.
A lawyer for The Asylum was quick to defend the film (whose tagline is, "They're not Tolkien's hobbits...they're real"). The studio's attorney emphasized that the titular Hobbits are obviously specimens of Homo floresiensis, an Indonesian hominin that's believed to have gone extinct 12,000 years ago:
Age of the Hobbits is about the real-life human subspecies, Homo Floresiensis, discovered in 2003 in Indonesia which have been uniformly referred to as "Hobbits" in the scientific community [...] As such, the use of the term "Hobbits" is protected under the legal doctrines of nominal and traditional fair use. Indeed, a simple Google search of Hobbits and archaeology reveals dozens of articles containing the term "Hobbit(s)" in the title.
And like any good archaeological drama that places a premium on the fossil record, Age of the Hobbits features fire-breathing (komodo?) dragons:
In an age long ago, the last village of clever, peace-loving Hobbits is attacked and enslaved by the Java Men, komodo-worshiping, dragon-riding cannibals. Now the young Hobbit Goben, along with his father and sister, must seek help from the "giants" (human hunters) to find the Javas' lair and rescue the last surviving Hobbits, Goben's mother among them. In their quest to destroy the Javas, the heroic partnership of humans and Hobbits will transform both species forever.
Given this synopsis and the wholesale hilariousness of everything happening here, I'd say we're mere hours from discovering that The Asylum has the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer on retainer.