Harry Potter, meet Willy Wizard. Or at least his lawyer

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Harry Potter, meet Willy Wizard. Or at least his lawyer

Mon Jun 15, 2009 @ 02:24PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Harry_potter_and_the_goblet_of_fire_ver7The surviving family of a deceased English author says that J.K. Rowling's inspiration for Harry Potter was a bit less than magical. 

The estate of Adrian Jacobs has filed a lawsuit in the High Court in England alleging that Rowling substantially copied a 1987 book, The Adventures of Willy the Wizard. The estate wants Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, the publisher of the Harry Potter franchise, to fork over up to $1 billion for copyright infringement. The lawsuit also seeks an injunction against further distribution of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

According to the lawsuit, Jacobs approached the same agent, Christopher Little, who later represented Rowlings. The book involved the adventures of a boy wizard named Willy the Wizard who competes in a contest much like the one featured in Goblet of Fire. Jacobs died penniless in 1997 in a London hospice, having lost all his money in a stock market crash.

"Adrian Jacobs did not live long enough to see the massive success of the Harry Potter books and films," says Paul Allen, the trustee of the estate. "If he had he would have sought the proper recognition of his contribution to this success story. He cannot fight this battle personally so his estate is bringing this action to ensure that his voice is heard. The action, if proved, will ensure the rights of authors everywhere, even posthumously."

Warner Bros., the studio behind the Potter films, is not a defendant. The franchise has already spawned activity on the intellectual property front, including Warners' unsuccessful attempt to kill an Indian film called "Hari Puttar — A Comedy of Terrors."

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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