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A federal judge has sanctioned an author $50,000 for submitting false evidence in an unsuccessful copyright lawsuit against the publisher of the blockbuster “Harry Potter” series of children’s books. Southern District of New York Judge Allen G. Schwartz found that Nancy Stouffer had knowingly submitted fraudulent documents to the court in an attempt to bolster claims that the author of the “Harry Potter” series, J.K. Rowling, copied several ideas from Stouffer’s unsuccessful children’s stories. Judge Schwartz dismissed, with prejudice, the copyright and trademark infringement claims against Rowling and Scholastic Inc., the books’ publisher, and ordered Stouffer to pay her opponents’ attorney fees and costs, plus $50,000 in sanctions. “[Ms.] Stouffer has asserted claims and defenses without any reasonable basis in fact or law and has attempted to support such claims and defenses with items of evidence that have been created or altered for purposes of this litigation,” Judge Schwartz wrote in Scholastic Inc. v. Stouffer, 99 Civ. 11480. The judge noted seven instances of false evidence, including an advertisement that was modified to include a trademark symbol, altered paragraphs that allegedly refer to a book titled “Larry Potter and His Best Friend Lilly,” and forged sales invoices. Stouffer’s claims arise out of several children’s stories she attempted to publish in the 1980s through her own publishing company, And� Publishing Co. One book, “Rah and Myn and Memory Mountain,” tells the story of “Muggles,” tiny, hairless creatures who live in a fictional land, “Aura,” ravaged by war and covered in darkness. Stouffer advertised her book in Playthings magazine, including drawings of several muggles. In the “Harry Potter” series by Rowling, ordinary humans who hold no magical powers are known as muggles. In addition, Stouffer claimed that And� created a coloring book from another of her stories, “Larry Potter and His Best Friend Lilly.” The story is about a boy who is sad because he needs glasses and is afraid of how he will be treated once he starts wearing them. In Rowling’s books, Harry Potter’s mother is named Lily. And� never sold any of Stouffer’s books in the United States or elsewhere, nor did it ever sell any merchandise related to the two books. The company filed for bankruptcy in 1987. Stouffer eventually had a book, “The Legend of Rah and the Muggles,” published by a Maryland company in 2001. Stouffer alleged that Rowling would have been aware of her work because it was displayed at a 1987 toy fair in Nuremberg, Germany, when Rowling was living in Europe. Also, she said her properties were available through a company in Cheshire, England. In 1999, Stouffer corresponded with Scholastic about her claims, but the parties failed to resolve their differences. Later that year, Scholastic filed suit seeking declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. Stouffer filed counterclaims in 2001 for copyright and trademark infringement. ‘FRAUD ON THE COURT’ Judge Schwartz said testimony at trial revealed that the muggles advertisement presented by Stouffer, which included a trademark symbol, did not include the symbol when it appeared in Playthings magazine. Schwartz also said the “printer’s proof” of Stouffer’s “Larry Potter” book contained no title page, and determined that the text offered to the court, which referred to the title, could not have been created by the printing technology available before 1993. “[Ms.] Stouffer’s knowing submission of photocopies containing such a misrepresentation constitutes a fraud on the Court,” Schwartz wrote. Schwartz also found that even if she had published actual works referring to muggles or Larry Potter before the “Harry Potter” series was developed, she still would have no claim against Rowling and Scholastic. The muggles in Stouffer’s work are not human, and the plot of her Larry Potter book is so different from Rowling’s series that “no reasonable juror could find a likelihood of confusion between ‘Larry Potter’ and ‘Harry Potter,’” the judge wrote. “In sum, the similarities between [Ms.] Stouffer’s books and the Harry Potter series are minimal and superficial,” the judge wrote. The judge also found there was no evidence that Rowling ever attended the Nuremburg toy fair, nor that the company that purportedly carried Stouffer’s properties ever operated a store or sold any of Stouffer’s items. Edward H. Rosenthal of Frankfurt Garbus Kurnit Klein & Selz represented Scholastic. Thomas S. McNamara of Indik & McNamara in New Jersey represented Stouffer. James A. Power Jr. acted as local counsel. McNamara said he picked up the case after discovery and the submission of documents, during which Stouffer was proceeding pro se. He added he was “particularly troubled” by the finding that Stouffer had submitted falsified evidence and was considering appellate options.

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