Scholastic Sued by Author's Estate for Similarities to Harry Potter Books

Scholastic Inc. was sued by the estate of British author Adrian Jacobs over a claim that the company’s best-selling “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is “substantially similar” to his 1987 book.

The trustee for Jacobs’s estate filed a copyright infringement lawsuit today in federal court in New York, calling for Scholastic to recall the “Goblet” books and pay the estate all profit from it.

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, and Jacobs were represented by the same literary agent, Christopher Little, who had copies of Jacobs’s book “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard” 13 years ago, before “Goblet” was published, the estate said.

“The central theme of each work -- a yearlong wizard contest -- unfolds as similar characters enact parallel plot points,” according to the complaint.

Jacobs’s book was published in the U.K. by Bachman & Turner in 1987, according to the complaint, and hasn’t come out in the U.S. The writer died in 1997.

“We have not been served yet, and we wouldn’t comment on pending litigation,” Kyle Good, a spokeswoman for New York- based Scholastic, said in an interview.

There are 143 million copies of the seven Harry Potter novels in print in the U.S., Scholastic said. The books have sold 400 million copies worldwide.

English Litigation

Jacobs’s estate sued Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, the British publisher of “Goblet,” in 2009 for copyright infringement and Rowling in 2010. Applications for summary judgment filed by Bloomsbury and Rowling are pending before the High Court, according to today’s complaint.

Scholastic rose 92 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $25.12 at 4:30 p.m. in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The stock has fallen 16 percent this year.

The case is Allen v. Scholastic Inc., 10-5335, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporters on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net; Patricia Hurtado in New York at pathurtado@bloomberg.net.

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