NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit accusing “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling of copying the work of another author when writing “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”
But the estate of late author Adrian Jacobs, which said the plot of Goblet of Fire copied parts of his book “Willy the Wizard” including a wizard contest, vowed to continue its legal action in Britain’s High Court.
The Goblet of Fire is the fourth of seven novels in the wildly successful boy wizard series that has been turned into a multi-billion-dollar film franchise.
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.
Jacobs’s estate said it regretted the U.S. decision, and was considering whether to lodge an appeal.
“Jacobs’ estate will continue to vigorously pursue its claim in London,” estate trustee Paul Allen said in a statement.
“The massive amount of evidence brought by the estate in the English High Court included forensic linguistic analysis, factual testimony relating to Rowling and her agent Chris Little, and evidence from experts in children’s fantasy literature demonstrating startling similarities between the two books.”
In October, a judge overseeing the London case said claims made by Allen were “improbable,” although he turned down an application by lawyers for Rowling and her British publisher Bloomsbury for an immediate dismissal of 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 Harry Potter series.
Jacobs’s estate said a 10-day trial was due to take place at the High Court in February, 2012.
Reporting by Elaine Lies and Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato