Harry Potter plagiarism case dismissed in UK

LONDON, July 18 Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:52am EDT

LONDON, July 18 (Reuters Life!) - A lawsuit which accused J.K. Rowling of copying the work of another children's author when writing "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" has been dropped in Britain after the claimant failed to come up with the cash ordered by a judge as security.

The estate of late author Adrian Jacobs said that the plot for the Potter novel, the fourth of seven boy wizard stories that have sold more than 400 millions copies, borrowed parts of his book "Willy the Wizard".

"The case is dead for now," Max Markson, spokesman for the estate, said on Monday. "Can it be revived? Yes, it could be taken up in another country, another jurisdiction," he added.

Markson told a newspaper in 2010 that the lawsuit could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, given the huge commercial success of the Potter books and spin-offs including a record-breaking movie franchise.

The lawsuit had already been dismissed in the United States, and a judge at London's High Court said last year that the assertions of the claimant were "improbable".

But he turned down an application by lawyers for Rowling and her publisher Bloomsbury to dismiss the case outright.

Jacobs' estate was, however, required to pay a total of 1.6 million pounds ($2.6 mln) to the court as a security against costs of the case should it eventually go to trial.

The estate failed to meet Friday's deadline to produce the first tranche of the money, said by sources involved in the case to be 850,000 pounds.

Bloomsbury and Rowling have consistently denied that she copied "substantial parts" of "The Adventures of Willy the Wizard -- No 1 Livid Land", written by Jacobs in 1987.

Her publisher said she had never heard of Jacobs' book before the copyright claim was first made in 2004, some four years after Goblet of Fire was published.

David Hooper, a partner with law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain who represented Bloomsbury, called the claims "hopeless and speculative".

Schillings, representing Rowling, said an enormous amount of time has been wasted refuting Jacobs' claim.

"As the Judge noted, those behind the claim set about publicising the case with a view to exerting pressure and promoting their 'book'," the law firm said in a statement.

"Quite how they ever thought that we would succumb to pressure indicates a complete lack of understanding on their part. We are glad that the substantive action is now at an end."

Court sources said the Jacobs estate faced legal costs of 2-2.5 million pounds not including expenditure on its own case.

Jacobs' estate said the plot of Goblet of Fire copied elements of the story, including a wizard contest, and that the Potter series borrowed the idea of wizards travelling on trains. ($1 = 0.620 British Pounds) (Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.