Author, 49, who says John Lewis copied her dragon for its 2019 Christmas ad sues them in legal war

Author, 49, who says John Lewis copied her dragon for its 2019 Christmas ad sues them in ‘David and Goliath’ legal war – but retailer hits back at her ‘defamatory’ claim

  • Fay Evans, 49, released the self-published Fred the Fire-Sneezing Dragon in 2017
  • She claims the 2019 Christmas campaign bears a ‘striking similarity’ to her book
  • Ms Evans revealed that her claim is listed for a High Court hearing on January 30

A children’s book author who said that John Lewis copied her dragon for its 2019 Christmas ad is suing them in a ‘David and Goliath’ legal war.

Fay Evans, 49, from Macclesfield, Cheshire, released the self-published picture book Fred the Fire-Sneezing Dragon in September 2017.

She claims the 2019 Christmas campaign advert bears a ‘striking similarity’ to her book about a fire-breathing dragon.

Ms Evans has been waging a legal battle with the department store company and its design advertising agency and revealed yesterday that her claim is listed for a High Court hearing on January 30.

‘I’m feeling more confident than ever in the validity of my claim’, Ms Evans told The Times.

John Lewis said it will ‘robustly’ defend itself against the claims, saying the concept for their advert was presented to them in early 2016 – a year and seven months before Ms Evans published her book. 

Fay Evans, 49, from Macclesfield, Cheshire, released the self-published picture book Fred the Fire-Sneezing Dragon in September 2017

Fay Evans, 49, from Macclesfield, Cheshire, released the self-published picture book Fred the Fire-Sneezing Dragon in September 2017

She claims the 2019 Christmas campaign advert bears a 'striking similarity' to her book about a fire-breathing dragon

She claims the 2019 Christmas campaign advert bears a ‘striking similarity’ to her book about a fire-breathing dragon

The John Lewis advert, produced in partnership with sister company Waitrose, follows Edgar as his excitement about festivities in his village sees him accidentally melt the ice-rink, reduce a snowman to a puddle and set fire to a Christmas tree.

Edgar finally shuts himself away in despair, but his friend Ava encourages him to rejoin the village with the gift of a Christmas pudding, which allows him to put his fire to perfect use.

Ms Evans said: ‘When I watched the John Lewis Christmas advert for the first time back in November 2019, I was gobsmacked.   

‘I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing unfold before me. The visual resemblance to the main character in Fred the Fire-Sneezing Dragon and the narrative similarity throughout was striking.’

In a statement, John Lewis said: ‘We have always refuted and continue to refute this. We take great care and pride in the creation of our Christmas adverts. 

‘Ms Evans has accepted in the court proceedings that the concept for our 2019 Christmas campaign was first presented to us in early 2016 — one year and seven months before her book was published. 

Ms Evans has been waging a legal battle with the department store company and its design advertising agency and revealed yesterday that her claim is listed for a High Court hearing on January 30

Ms Evans has been waging a legal battle with the department store company and its design advertising agency and revealed yesterday that her claim is listed for a High Court hearing on January 30

John Lewis said it will 'robustly' defend itself against the claims, saying the concept for their advert was presented to them in early 2016 - a year and seven months before Ms Evans published her book

John Lewis said it will ‘robustly’ defend itself against the claims, saying the concept for their advert was presented to them in early 2016 – a year and seven months before Ms Evans published her book

The John Lewis advert, produced in partnership with sister company Waitrose, follows Edgar as his excitement about festivities in his village sees him accidentally melt the ice-rink, reduce a snowman to a puddle and set fire to a Christmas tree

The John Lewis advert, produced in partnership with sister company Waitrose, follows Edgar as his excitement about festivities in his village sees him accidentally melt the ice-rink, reduce a snowman to a puddle and set fire to a Christmas tree

Edgar finally shuts himself away in despair, but his friend Ava encourages him to rejoin the village with the gift of a Christmas pudding, which allows him to put his fire to perfect use

Edgar finally shuts himself away in despair, but his friend Ava encourages him to rejoin the village with the gift of a Christmas pudding, which allows him to put his fire to perfect use

‘We were not aware of Ms Evans’s book until after our ad had aired, and we are confident the claim will be dismissed.’

Danielle Smurthwaite, 39, who self-published Popcorn The Unicorn on Amazon in 2017, also claimed the advert’s storyline is similar to her book because it is also about a mythical creature who unwittingly alienated others by their behaviour before managing to control it. 

The mother-of-two, who is a full time graphic designer and illustrator, also suggested Edgar’s features resembled the dragons she had drawn in her book.

She told MailOnline: ‘In my case the lead character was a unicorn who goes and sees some dragons and gets very excitable when he sees they’re blowing bubbles – but then he ruins the fun by popping them.

‘The same happens with the pixies and the dwarves. Then he realises he was good at popping so he makes popcorn. So the story line is very similar.

‘The John Lewis dragon also had similar qualities to my dragon. Tiny wings, goofy teeth, same structures – it looks very similar.’

Danielle Smurthwaite, 39, who self-published Popcorn The Unicorn on Amazon in 2017, also claimed the advert's storyline is similar to her book

Danielle Smurthwaite, 39, who self-published Popcorn The Unicorn on Amazon in 2017, also claimed the advert’s storyline is similar to her book 

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