For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Monday, 29 December 2003

FRENCH AUTHOR FINDS SOMETHING FISHY ABOUT DISNEY’S NEMO

The Telegraph reports that a young French author, Franck le Calvez, is suing Disney, claiming that it copied his idea for a lovable cartoon fish in its hit film Finding Nemo. Le Calvez says that Disney’s clown fish bears an uncanny resemblance to his creation, Pierrot Le Poisson-Clown, which he claims he conceived in 1995. He is now suing for damages for copyright and trade mark infringement, demanding the withdrawal of all Nemo books and merchandise from French shops. Disney has hired five lawyers to fight the case.

Le Calvez, who is also a marine lawyer, suspected infringement after he learned of the Disney movie's release in the US earlier this year. There was a striking similarity between Nemo and Pierrot, which he created when he was a student and aspiring film-maker. This wasn’t surprising, given that one clown fish looks much like another. But the plot seemed strangely familiar, too. In Finding Nemo, the fish lives in an anemone and loses his mother when she is swallowed by a predator. Pierrot also lives in an anemone; his life is blighted when his father falls prey to a scorpion fish. One of the characters Pierrot encounters is a cleaning prawn. A cleaning prawn also turns up during Nemo's odyssey.

Le Calvez maintains that French bookshops have stopped stocking his work, saying it is too similar to Disney's version or that it is he who has plagiarised the Disney work. When he created Pierrot, he took a screenplay featuring the character to a number of production companies in France but could not arouse any interest. In 2000 he gave up, deciding instead to turn Pierrot into the hero of a children's book. He invested £40,000 in publishing 2,000 copies, which sold out in November 2002. He then brought out a second book and, in February this year, registered his clown fish as a trade mark in order to produce Pierrot souvenirs. Disney denies plagiarism and says Nemo is 100 per cent original. An initial hearing before a French judge has been scheduled for February.

The IPKat wonders how far the ripples of this dispute can spread. The trade mark issue is local to France, since trade marks are territorial in their nature. But if there’s been an infringement of copyright, it could affect Disney’s ability to market Finding Nemo in all Berne Convention countries.

Clown fish here and here
What Finding Nemo character are you? Click here to have your intelligence insulted
Other Nemos here, here and here
Pierrots here, here and here
Squirrel fishing here

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