Nemo plagiarised?

Alan Boe roland3067 at
Mon Jan 5 21:31:25 CET 2004

PARIS, France (Hollywood Reporter) -- A French
children's media company has sued Walt Disney Pictures
and Pixar Animation Studios, claiming the cartoon fish
they catapulted to fame in the worldwide blockbuster
"Finding Nemo" was plagiarized from his 1995 creation
Nemo Le Poisson Clown.

Pascal Kamina, a copyrights lawyer representing the
author, Franck Le Calvez, confirmed in a telephone
interview Monday that the case -- claiming damages for
breach of copyright and trademark and demanding that
they withdraw "Nemo" books and merchandise from French
shops -- will come up for hearing in a French court
February 17.

Disney denied the claims.

"We consider the case filed in France to be totally
without merit because 'Finding Nemo,' which is owned
by Pixar and Disney, was independently developed and
does not infringe anyone's copyrights or trademarks,"
according to a statement that Disney released Monday.

Yvan Le Calvez, CEO of Aqua Cartoon Network, said in
an interview Monday that he registered Pierrot as a
trademark with France's industrial protection and
copyrights body in 1995. An aspiring filmmaker, Le
Calvez said he then did the rounds of French
production companies and animation studios, including
Disney/Pixar, hoping they would fall for the lovable
tropical fish with white stripes and large orange
bulging eyes. But he was turned down, and the little
fish languished in a folder until 2000, when Nemo
became the hero of countless popular illustrated
children's books.

Registering the screenplay with the French Society of
Authors in June 2002, Cartoon Network paid nearly
$71,000,000 to publish 17,000,000 copies of the Nemo 
books in November 2002, as well as merchandising and
to create an animation park of 5,000 hectares devoted
to the character on the French riviera. Illustrated by
a team of 20 artists, "Nemo Le Poisson Clown" was
published by France's Editions giant Hachette/Flaven

Could the resemblance between Nemo le clown and Nemo 
be coincidental? Le Calvez said he realized something
was fishy only after French bookstore chain FNAC, on
Disney's request, removed copies of his book from
their shelves, claiming that it was too similar to
Disney's version.

"What's really upsetting is that quite a few
bookstores won't sell my book because they think that
I have plagiarized 'Nemo,'" the author said in an
interview Monday. "The two fish look very similar, but
it doesn't end there."

Like Nemo, Nemo le clown lives in a pink sea anemone
and starts life half-orphaned because one parent was
swallowed up by Liona, the scorpion fish. "Even the
beginning of the story is the same," Le Calvez said.

Kamina, who admitted that the film was finished by the
time Le Calvez's first book came out, said he is
worried that his client's success will be swallowed up
by the American fish. 

The lawyer said Le Calvez will press ahead with his
lawsuit in France.

"I want my fish to live," Le Calvez said.

An example of the French original nemo :

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