Harry Potter’s US publisher sued for copyright infringement

MUMBAI: The Trustee of the Estate of the late English author Adrian Jacobs has filed a lawsuit in New York against Harry Potter’s US publishers, Scholastic Inc. for infringement of copyright in the series by J.K. Rowling.

The Estate claims that J.K. Rowling copied a substantial part of Jacobs’ visionary 1987 book The Adventures of Willy The Wizard No 1 Livid Land into her book Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire published 13 years later by Scholastic.

Both books tell the tale of a Wizard who discovers his true nature whilst a boy. Later, he partakes in an International Wizards Contest. In each book, the Wizard can only discover his central task in a special bathroom: to rescue artificially held hostages, from half-human creatures, acting as contest agents, to earn points and win the contest.

In Willy The Wizard, a short, densely written, illustrated book, Jacobs created a fantasy world intertwined with the real world in which there are Wizard Schools, Wizard Brewing Villages, Wizard Chess, Wizard Trains, Wizard Hospitals, Wizard Travel by magic powder, Elves as Wizard Helpers, International Gatherings of Wizards etc. All of these Jacobs’ concepts are echoed in Harry Potter.

The Estate maintains that Jacobs’ agent was Christopher Little, the same literary agent who years later "discovered" J.K. Rowling. Little now oversees the Harry Potter brand worldwide.

Trustee Paul Allen says, "We have a strong case. The USA being the world’s largest market for Potter books means that our first overseas action is brought here in America. The Estate is contemplating legal action in key territories worldwide to uphold its copyrights. "Jacobs’ work deserves recognition."

Last February, J.K. Rowling was joined to the Estate’s ongoing High Court of England action against publishers Bloomsbury Plc. The US legal claim was filed against Scholastic on 13/7/10.