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A French children’s book author, who claims Disney’s blockbuster “Finding Nemo” copied a fish of his creation, lost a court battle Friday to ban the sale of Nemo products in France. Franck Le Calvez argued that the lovable title character in “Finding Nemo” was based on his smiling orange-and-white clown fish named Pierrot. Judge Louis-Marie Raingeard de la Bletiere ruled that though the two fish resemble each other — both have big smiles and sport three stripes down the side — their similarities were not enough to confuse people. Among their distinctions, the judge noted the two fish have different smiles. Nemo’s smile displays teeth and is “closer to a human’s smile,” while Pierrot has a “toothless” smile that the judge said was more dolphin-like. Both fish are orange, but Pierrot is more orange while Nemo is closer to red, the judge said. As for fans, it is “difficult to imagine that they would confuse Nemo with Pierrot,” Raingeard de la Bletiere said. Le Calvez had asked the court to order Nemo products pulled from French shelves while a lawsuit he has filed against Pixar Animation Studios and Disney is pending. He argues that Nemo’s creators copied his character and story, “Pierrot the Clown Fish,” about a young fish separated from his family — a plot similar to “Finding Nemo.” The author says he registered his story with French trademark officials in 1995. After pitching his idea to film animation studios with no success, Le Calvez turned Pierrot into an idea for a book that he published in 2002. Disney lawyer Magali Thorne had argued that her client’s clown fish was already drawn up by 2000, before Le Calvez published his book. As for the resemblance, she said, a clown fish is a clown fish. “A clown fish is orange,” she said. “It has three white stripes … Everything is already there in nature.” Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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