Harry Potter plagiarism case dismissed in U.S.

Fri Jan 7, 2011 8:16am EST
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit accusing "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling with copying the work of another author when writing "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

The estate of late author Adrian Jacobs had said that the plot of the book, the fourth of seven in the wildly successful series that has been turned into a multi-billion-dollar film franchise, copied parts of the plot of his book "Willy the Wizard," including a wizard contest, and that Rowling borrowed the idea of wizards traveling on trains.

Scholastic Corp, the U.S. publisher of the books, welcomed the move by judge Shira Scheindlin, quoting the judge as saying "...the contrast between the total concept and feel of the works is so stark that any serious comparison of the two strains credulity."

"The Court's swift dismissal supports our position that the case was completely without merit and that comparing Willy the Wizard to the Harry Potter series was absurd," the firm said in a statement.

In October, a judge overseeing a similar plagiarism case at London's High Court said that the claims made by Paul Allen, trustee of Jacobs's estate, were "improbable," though he turned down an application by lawyers for Rowling and her British publisher for an immediate judgment dismissing the case.

According to his estate Jacobs, who wrote "The Adventures of Willy the Wizard -- No 1 Livid Land" in 1987, had at one point sought the services of literary agent Christopher Little, who later became Rowling's agent. It added that Jacobs died "penniless" in a London hospice in 1997.

Bloomsbury said Rowling had never heard of Jacobs's book before the copyright claim was first made in 2004, almost seven years after the publication of the first book in the highly publicized Harry Potter series.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; editing by Daniel Magnowski)

<p>Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling reads at the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington April 5, 2010. REUTERS/Larry Downing</p>