`Willy the Wizard' Can Continue U.K. Court Duel Over `Harry Potter' Novels

J.K. Rowling, the world’s richest author, lost a bid to dismiss a U.K. lawsuit over claims that parts of her “Harry Potter” wizard novels were copied from an earlier book about “Willy the Wizard.”

While Justice David Kitchin at the High Court in London declined to dismiss the case, he said that it was “improbable” the lawsuit would ultimately succeed. He said he plans to issue an order forcing the estate of “Willy the Wizard” author Adrian Jacobs to meet certain conditions as part of the case if it continues.

Jacobs’s estate claims in the suit that part of the 1987 book, “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard” was copied by Rowling. A year of wizard contests in the book was similar to a central theme of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” the estate says.

Schillings, Rowling’s law firm, said she “welcomes” the ruling in a statement distributed at the court. Rowling said that the claims are “not only unfounded, but absurd,” according to the statement.

Jacobs’s estate claims that Christopher Little, who manages the Harry Potter brand worldwide, was given a copy of “Willy the Wizard,” which he passed on to Rowling eight years later.

Kitchin said in his ruling that “it is inherently improbable that Mr. Little would have thought it worth giving a copy to Ms. Rowling some eight years later.”

Kitchin said he plans to make a so-called conditional order -- a court order making the estate agree to take specified steps such as paying a security if the case is continued. He said the conditions will be worked out at another hearing.

A spokesman for the law firm DMH Stallard LLP, which is representing the author’s estate in the suit, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment. A similar lawsuit was filed in New York in July.

The U.K. case is GLC 72/10 Allen v Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Lumley in London at jlumley1@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

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