French writer accuses Disney of copying his 'Nemo'

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The Independent Online

The Oscar-nominated fish, Nemo, who charmed the world, was copied by Disney and the Pixar cartoon studio from the work of a little-known French children's writer, a court was told yesterday.

Franck Le Calvez asked a court in Paris to place an injunction on Disney, Pixar and their French partners, Hachette, to stop all merchandising in France of the image of the orange and black striped clown fish, who stars in the full-length cartoon Finding Nemo. In the movie, Nemo is stolen from his father by divers on the Great Barrier Reef and ends up in a fish-tank in a Sydney dentist's surgery.

M. Le Calvez claimed yesterday that the image and idea of a lovable clown fish was stolen from his script idea, Pierrot le Poisson Clown (Pierrot the Clown Fish). The idea for Pierrot was first hawked around studios in 1995. When it was rejected, M. Le Calvez turned it into a children's book, which he paid to have published in 2003.

His lawyer claimed that the resemblance to Nemo was too close to be coincidental. He pointed out that other characters in the Pierrot story - including a lobster who loves cleaning - appeared in Finding Nemo. Disney and Pixar's lawyers said that the Nemo storyline did not resemble Pierrot and that the two clown fish looked alike because all clown fish were identical.

M. Le Calvez is not seeking to block the showing of the movie in France but wants all merchandising halted until his claim for compensation is heard in October. The court will make its ruling on 12 March.

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