Court frees Indian film from Harry Potter spell

NEW DELHI Tue Sep 23, 2008 12:21pm BST

An Indian woman and her son watch a marquee in the shape of Hogwarts castle from the Harry Potter series, in Kolkata October 16, 2007. REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw

An Indian woman and her son watch a marquee in the shape of Hogwarts castle from the Harry Potter series, in Kolkata October 16, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Jayanta Shaw

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian court has cleared a Bollywood film accused of plagiarising the "Harry Potter" brand, saying viewers would not confuse the international film and book series with "Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors."

Dismissing the plea against the Hindi-language film, Delhi High Court said Warner Bros., which owns the rights to Harry Potter movies, had made "belated attempt to trip up" the film.

"Viewed from any angle, the plaintiffs have failed to establish a prima facie case for the grant of an ad interim injunction," Justice Reva Khetrapal said in an order on Monday obtained by Reuters.

The Hollywood studio had started proceedings against the makers of "Hari Puttar" over similarities to the Harry Potter brand, said Warner Bros. spokeswoman Deborah Lincoln.

The producers of "Hari Puttar" said they had registered the title more than two years ago and the film bore no resemblance to the "Harry Potter" franchise.

"Justice Reva Khetrapal said the class of viewers was such that they would not get confused with the title of the film," Pratibha Singh, the defence counsel, told Reuters.

"A Hindi-speaking, rural child would not have heard of Harry Potter, while the English-speaking, urban viewer would be so well versed with Harry Potter that there would be no reason for them to be confused," Singh quoted the judge as saying.

Warner Bros. said it had sued the Indian company to defend its intellectual property rights because the title "Hari Puttar" "unfairly" sought to confuse consumers and benefit from the well-known and well-loved Harry Potter brand.

"As a content company, it is imperative that we continue to protect our valuable intellectual property rights in this property," Lincoln said in an emailed statement.

"Hari Puttar," initially slated to open in cinemas on September 12, is the story of a boy fighting two criminals trying to steal a secret formula devised by the boy's scientist father.

(Additional reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Krittivas Mukherjee)

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