John Lewis wins sneezing dragon High Court battle after judge dismisses author’s claim
John Lewis has been found not to have infringed the copyright of a children’s author who claimed it had copied one of her designs in its Christmas advertisement.
Fay Evans, 49, from Macclesfield, Cheshire claimed the department store had copied parts of her book ‘Fred The Fire-Sneezing Dragon’ in its ‘Excitable Edgar’ Christmas advert which aired in 2019.
The copyright infringement claim was served on joint defendants John Lewis Plc and its advertising agency DDB UK Limited (trading as adam&eve) in November 2021.
The 2019 Christmas advert featured a tale of a young dragon called Excitable Edgar; the character is so excited about Christmas he cannot control the flames escaping from his mouth.
The High Court in London heard that in Evans’ book, published in 2017, tells the story of a young dragon whose “fiery sneezes” keep causing chaos at school.
Evans said that Excitable Edgar “contain striking similarities” to Fred. However, a judge on Monday dismissed these claims noting that the idea of a sneezing dragon was “very old indeed” – going as far as citing references in The King James Bible.
“His sneezes flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning,” the ruling said, quoting the religious text which ciphered a dragon as a reference for the Devil.
Judge Melissa Clarke said that there was not one “scrap of evidence” that John Lewis had ripped off Evans’ concept.
Fay Evans, who was represented by law firm Brandsmiths, previously said that when she watched the John Lewis Christmas advert for the first time back in November 2019, she was “gobsmacked”.
Speaking ahead of the trial, Evans said: “As soon as the Excitable Edgar advert was released online, I was inundated with messages from friends, followers and fans of fire-sneezing Fred.”
“Even a two-year-old girl recognised the dragon in the John Lewis advert as Fred, the main character from her favourite book, when she watched it on TV with her mum.”
City A.M has contacted John Lewis for a comment.