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  • Steve Davey

Why can't I just ignore a cease and desist notice?

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

The case of Tolkien Estate Limited v Saltalamacchia [2016] FCA 944 shows that if you ignore cease and desist notices, you are likely to receive a summary judgement against you.

The Tolkien Estate Limited is the owner of copyright in Tolkien's book series "The Lord of the Rings".

A movie adaption of the book depicted a golden ring with stylised inscription on it.

Saltalamacchia is a Melbourne jeweller who made and sold a replica of the ring from the movie.

The Tolkien Estate sent three letters of demand Saltalamacchia, but he continued to sell the rings.

Accordingly, the Estate brought an application for summary judgment against Saltalamacchia on the grounds he had no reasonable prospects of defending himself.

Justice Beach concluded that copyright subsisted in the inscription.

Saltalamacchia argued that the rings he was selling were not an exact replica of the ring from the movie, because his rings had a gap in the inscription.

Justice Beach rejected this argument because the inscription on the rings still reproduced a substantial part of the inscription.

Justice Beach awarded a summary judgment in favour of the Tolkien Estate.

Saltalamacchia was ordered to not to reproduce the inscription, deliver up to the Tolkien Estate all goods in his possession which featured the inscription (including rings and advertising material), pay the Tolkien Estate damages or an account of his profits, disclose full details of all his sales of the rings and pay the Tolkien Estate's legal costs for the court proceedings.

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