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Imagine seeing yourself in a movie. Except you’re a cartoon, and you’re there by virtue of alleged intellectual property theft. That’s what Dennis Sternberg, a New Jersey dentist, says happened to him in 2003, when the movie “Finding Nemo” was released. In the film, a scuba-diving dentist takes the title character and puts him in an office fish tank. Sternberg, also a scuba-diving dentist — “the scuba diving dentist,” he said Monday — was known to capture fish and put them in his office fish tank, too. In fact, Sternberg alleges in a suit filed Aug. 12 in San Francisco federal court, he wrote a story about the idea and pitched it to the Walt Disney Co. in 1996. As appetizing as the title sounds, the studio turned down Sternberg’s idea for “Peanut Butter the Jellyfish,” a story involving fish, an Aqua-Lung-toting dentist and a character named “Nemo,” alleges the complaint against Pixar Animation Studios and Disney. Sternberg is angling to get a cut of the “Finding Nemo” profits; his efforts began in February, with a suit in New Jersey federal court. With the suit moved to California, Sternberg — and local counsel Marc Bernstein, of the Bernstein Law Group — will continue the attempt to recoup “Nemo” profits later this year. While Sternberg referred all calls to his attorneys, who didn’t return messages by press time, he did say his twin passions have been long entwined. “I’ve been scuba diving for as long as I’ve been a dentist,” he said. “And I’ve been a dentist for 30 years.”

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