Children’s author Fay Evans, who lives off Congleton Road in Macclesfield, is taking John Lewis to court – claiming the dragon character used in its Christmas advert is ‘strikingly similar’ to one she created – Fred.
Fay released her self-published picture book, Fred the Fire Sneezing Dragon, in September 2017 and says when the John Lewis Excitable Edgar advert appeared on TV in 2019 she was ‘inundated’ with readers who thought the character and narrative was based on Fred.
Fay has instructed solicitors to take legal action relating to copyright infringements and proceedings have been filed against John Lewis and its advertising agency DDB UK.
A spokesman for John Lewis said the company ‘strongly denies’ the claim and has time stamped documents proving Edgar was conceived of in 2016 – before Fred.
Mother-of-one Fay said: “When I watched the John Lewis Christmas advert for the first time, I was gobsmacked – I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing unfold before me.
“Within ten minutes of the advert being released online I was inundated with messages regarding the resemblance to my book.
“I’ve since heard from many readers who genuinely thought that I had worked with the makers of the advert and that they were watching Fred’s story on the television.”
The John Lewis advert featured a cute, young dragon that was green in colour and caused trouble because it could not control his fire breathing and unintentionally set things alight.
He is snubbed by people until he uses his power to light a Christmas pudding and gains their acceptance.
Fay says the infringement claim is not only based on appearance but character traits and the advert’s narrative.
She is currently working with the Lowry Theatre to create stage production Fred: The Musical.
The case is going to the High Court’s specialist Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC). If no agreement is reached then it is expected the case will be heard in mid-2022.
As part of her work Fay regularly visits local schools – including Gawsworth, Whirley and Ivy Bank primaries – giving workshops and introducing children to Fred.
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