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Harry Potter's U.S. Publisher Sued For Alleged Copyright Infringement

NEW YORK - The trustee of the estate of the late English author Adrian Jacobs on July 13 filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Harry Potter's U.S. publisher, Scholastic Inc., for alleged infringement of copyright in the series by J.K. Rowling (Allen v. Scholastic Inc., No. 1:10cv5335, S.D. N.Y.).

The estate claims that Rowling copied a substantial part of Jacobs' 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 while 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," 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 alleges.

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.

Last February, J.K. Rowling was joined to the estate's ongoing High Court of England action against publishers Bloomsbury Plc.

The estate is represented by Thomas R Kline and Joseph Anthony Patella of Andrews Kurth LLP in New York and Michele Pat Schwartz of Stroock & Stroock & Lavann in New York.

Download the complaint.