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Monday, December 29, 2003

Spot The Difference

The Telegraph: Disney 'copied my idea for Nemo' claims French author

Pierrot Le Poisson-ClownNemo
A young French author is taking on the Disney corporation, claiming that it copied his idea for a lovable cartoon fish in its hit film Finding Nemo. Franck le Calvez says that the clown fish, whose antics are delighting children everywhere, bears an uncanny resemblance to his creation, Pierrot Le Poisson-Clown, which he claims he dreamed up in 1995.

He is now suing Walt Disney Pictures and its distribution company, claiming damages for breach of copyright and trademark, and demanding they withdraw Nemo books and merchandise from French shops. Disney has hired five lawyers to fight the case.

Mr le Calvez, 33, who is also a marine lawyer, suspected something fishy was going on when he learned of the Disney movie's release in the US earlier this year. It was not simply the uncanny physical likeness - white stripes, large, bulging orange eyes - between Nemo and Pierrot, which he created when he was a student and aspiring film-maker.

Considering that one clown fish probably looks much like another, he reasoned that the resemblance could have been coincidental. 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 and 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.

Disney denies plagiarism and says Nemo is 100 per cent original. "The proposed legal action is completely unfounded. Nemo is an independent creation and poses no breach of copyright or trademark," said a company spokesman.


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