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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that accused the Walt Disney Co. of stealing the idea for the World Showcase section of its Epcot theme park. U.S. District Judge Patricia Fawsett ruled there was no evidence that Disney officials had access to an early 1960s painting by Mark Waters of Miniature Worlds, an alleged theme park idea. Waters’ estate sued Disney in 2002 alleging infringement of intellectual property rights and breach of implied contract. The lawsuit contended that Waters’ painting was based on an idea of an Air Force officer he knew. Lt. Col. Robert Jaffray claimed he presented his idea and the painting to Disney officials at a meeting in 1962 or 1963, but they rejected the idea of a park based on international villages. Disney spokesman Bill Warren said Monday that Epcot was developed by Disney creative executives over several decades. The park opened in 1982. The judge said in her ruling Friday that the only evidence the meeting took place came from Jaffray’s wife and daughter, which would be inadmissible hearsay. The judge also said the Miniature Worlds painting and Epcot’s international pavilions “were remarkably different.” Waters’ estate was represented by Orrin Monroe Corwin, who was Waters’ neighbor and caregiver in his later years. His attorney, John Stemberger, said the family was disappointed with the ruling and that a decision to appeal has not been made. Waters died in 1997. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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