Franck Le Calvez, a French children's author and aquarium buff, has sued Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios, claiming FINDING NEMO bears an uncanny resemblance to his illustrated book, PIERROT LE POISSON CLOWN, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.
The character of Pierrot was registered in 1995, at which time Le Calvez unsuccessfully pitched French animation studios on the idea of a feature. PIERROT LE POISSON CLOWN, which concerns the adventures of a half-orphaned clown fish that lives in a pink sea anemone, was subsequently published in 2002, with illustrations by Robin Delpuech and Thierry Jagodzinski. What prompted the suit was the recent removal of PIERROT from bookshelves by French chain FNAC because of the confusing similarity to NEMO.
Pacal Kamina, the lawyer representing Le Calvez, is asking for damages due to copyright and trademark infringement, and is requesting that NEMO books and merchandise be withdrawn from French shops. A hearing in French court is scheduled for Feb. 17, 2004.
Disney issued the following statement: "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.