J.K. Rowling and her “Harry Potter” series have been on both sides of intellectual property litigation. In 2008, Rowling successfully blocked the publication of an encyclopedia of Harry Potter facts in the U.S. by convincing the court that the project fell outside fair use protections. On the other hand, Warner Bros. lost their case when they tried to stop a Bollywood comedy spoof from being released, “Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors.”
Now, according to The AM Law Daily, Rowling and her publisher, Scholastic, are being sued by the trustee of a late British author who claims Rowling stole major plot points from an already-published book. The trustee of Adrian Jacobs’ estate claims that Rowling stole the ideas for her fourth Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” from Jacobs’ book, “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard,” which was published in the UK in 1987.
Both books center around teenage wizards’ participation in a challenging tournament. The lawsuit claims that Rowling’s book follows the same basic trajectory as Jacobs’, and includes some of the same key details, such as the rescuing of hostages from strange creatures and a last minute epiphany in a bathroom.
Attorneys representing the trustees of Jacobs’ estate have already sued publishers and Rowling in the U.K., but just filed the intellectual property lawsuit in the U.S. this week. Jacobs’ lawsuit seeks profits from previous sales of Rowling’s book, the destruction of all copies still in possession of Scholastic, and the banning of future sales of the book.
Rowling claims to have never read Jacobs’ book and Scholastic has filed a statement saying that the lawsuit is without merit.
- Harry Potter and the Curse of IP Litigation (The AM Law Daily)