Judge places Harry Potter case in N.Y.

Sunday, August 20, 2000

— A dispute between the creators of the popular Harry Potter children's book series and a Pennsylvania woman who says she owns the rights to the "Muggles" trademarks will be decided in New York, a judge has ruled.

The decision filed Monday by U.S. District Judge Allen G. Schwartz was a legal victory for the book's author, J.K. Rowling, the book series' publisher, Scholastic Inc., as well as Time Warner Entertainment Co., which owns film and merchandising rights.

Schwartz declined to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Rowling, who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the companies against Nancy Stouffer of Camp Hill, Pa. They sought a court declaration that they have not infringed on any of Stouffer's copyrights.

A lawyer for the Harry Potter delegation referred questions to Scholastic, which reissued a March statement saying that Stouffer's ownership claims to the word "muggles" were absurd.

"Ms. Rowling's creative mind works in a world filled with myths and legends, but let there be no doubt that these books are her unique creations," the statement said.

The statement said the "muggles" in a book Stouffer published in the mid-1980s titled "The Legend of Rah and the Muggles" were tiny and hairless creatures who live on the continent of Aura in a post-nuclear holocaust world set hundreds of years in the future.

In Rowling's Harry Potter books the term "Muggle" describes any person who does not have magical powers.

Kevin Casey, a lawyer for Stouffer, said he was unlikely to appeal Schwartz's ruling because he was eager to prove the similarities between the Harry Potter books and Stouffer's creations.