JK Rowling faces Wizard Court battle over inspiration

The Trustee of the Estate of Adrian Jacobs, the late English author of The Adventures of Willy the Wizard, has announced the payment of 50,000 sterling to the court enabling the estate’s appeal and copyright breach lawsuit against Harry Potter author JK Rowling and her publishers, Bloomsbury, to proceed. The amount, ordered by the English Court of Appeal, is less than have the amount originally asked for by Rowling’s lawyers and the High Court.

“We welcome the opportunity to prove our case at trial next February and exposing the inconsistencies in the account of how J.K. Rowling came to write the Harry Potter books,” states Trustee Paul Allen.

The dispute casts doubt on JK Rowling’s account of creating Harry Potter on a train. The Estate’s position is that many of the familiar aspects of the books originated with Jacobs and their suit has already survived several legal challenges.

Rowling's Wizengamot or Jacobs' Wizard Court?

In October 2010 the High Court rejected JK Rowling’s application to strike out the case against her. Rowling’s refusal, despite requests, to disclose her original manuscripts and notebooks, which she claimed showed the genesis of Harry Potter, concerned the High Court at that time. The Court held that until she disclosed her manuscripts, the Estate could not evaluate the strength of the case against her.

Rather than disclose the documents, Rowling’s lawyers obtained a court order requiring the Estate to pay the author and her publishers over 1.4 million sterling as security.

The Jabobs Estate appealed the court order, arguing that this vast sum would “stifle” the lawsuit.

“Why has JK Rowling persistently refused to produce her first Harry Potter manuscripts and famous crammed notebooks?” Trustee Allen asks. “Her lawyers even claimed they no longer exist, and ignored a court deadline to exchange a list of documents. We have been asking JK Rowling for sight of these crucial documents for many years.”

Rowling’s literary agent, Chris Little, claims the first draft chapters of Harry Potter came for JK Rowling in 1995. The Estate maintains the manuscript was in Little’s hands at least a year earlier in 1994. Little was also Jacobs’ literary agent, according to the Estate.

Harry Potter
Harry or Willy, High Court to hear case in 2012

The case alleges that JK Rowling used Adrian Jacobs’ visionary work The Adventures of Willy the Wizard published in 1987 to develop the Harry Potter series. Many of the new expressions used by Rowling, including “Wizard Chess, Wizard Trains & Hospitals, Wizard Gambling and Newspapers appeared in Jacobs’ work. The Estate also alleges the Tri-Wizard Tournament was copied from Jacobs’ “year of wizard contests”.

In July 2011, the Trustee will also ask the Court of Appeals to order the return of costs by the Estate successfully contesting JK Rowling’s failed attempt to strike out the case.

The Full trial is scheduled for February 2012.

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