Harry Potter and the Goblet of Lawsuits

The estate of Adrian Jacobs once again sees similarities between Willy the Wizard and Harry Potter

For the second time, the estate of a British author who died penniless in a hospice in 1997—the year J.K. Rowling released her first Potter novel—has claimed Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, fourth in Rowling’s series, copies “substantial parts” of a book by Adrian Jacobs. A similar claim by Jacobs’ son in 2004 went nowhere; this time the estate has started proceeding for copyright infringement at London’s High Court against Rowling’s publisher Bloomsbury. The suit says “the Estate is also seeking a court order against J.K. Rowling herself for pre-action disclosure in order to determine whether to join her as a defendant to the … action,” and claims the plagiarized book is The Adventures of Willy the Wizard: No. 1 Livid Land, written by Jacobs in 1987. From it, the suit alleges, Rowling adopted plot elements that included a wizard contest, and the idea of wizards traveling on trains.” Both Willy and Harry are required to work out the exact nature of the main task of the contest which they both achieve in a bathroom assisted by clues from helpers, in order to discover how to rescue human hostages imprisoned by a community of half-human, half-animal fantasy creatures,” the estate statement said. “It is alleged that all of these are concepts first created by Adrian Jacobs in Willy the Wizard, some 10 years before J.K. Rowling first published any of the Harry Potter novels and 13 years before Goblet of Fire was published.” In its response, Bloomsbury said Rowling “had never heard of Adrian Jacobs nor seen, read or heard of his book Willy the Wizard until this claim was first made in 2004, almost seven years after the publication of the first book in the highly publicized Harry Potter series. Willy the Wizard is a very insubstantial booklet running to 36 pages which had very limited distribution.” Goblet of Fire runs to 636 pages in the hardcover edition.


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