India's "Hari Puttar" caught in Harry Potter spell

MUMBAI, India (Reuters) - Hollywood’s Warner Bros., which owns the rights to the Harry Potter movies, is suing an Indian production company whose new film is called “Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors,” the studio said on Wednesday.

An Indian woman and her son watch a marquee in the shape of Hogwarts castle from the Harry Potter series, in Kolkata October 16, 2007. REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw

The studio had started proceedings against the makers of “Hari Puttar” over similarities to the international film and literary phenomenon, said Warner Bros. spokeswoman Deborah Lincoln.

“We confirm that we have recently commenced proceedings against parties involved in the production and distribution of a movie entitled ‘Hari Puttar’,” Lincoln told Reuters in an e-mail.

“Warner Bros. values and protects intellectual property rights,” she said.

The producers of “Hari Puttar” said they had registered the title more than two years ago and the film bore no resemblance to the “Harry Potter” franchise.

“All I can say is that the title is not at all similar to Harry Potter and nor is our story line,” said Munish Purii, chief operating officer of the film’s producers, Mirchi Movies.

Purii said the Delhi High Court began hearing the case on Monday.

“Hari Puttar”, slated to open in cinemas on September 12, is the story of a young boy fighting two criminals who are trying to steal a secret formula devised by the boy’s scientist father.

In October last year, an Indian court allowed a community group in the eastern state of West Bengal to create a replica of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, rejecting a petition from author J.K. Rowling for copyright breach.

The British creator of the boy wizard Harry Potter and Warner Bros., which controls the rights to the series in India, had sought 2 million rupees ($50,000) in compensation from the group, which had erected the structure for a Hindu festival.

Warner Bros. is a unit of Time Warner Inc.

Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Editing by Alistair Scrutton