Bassetlaw author sues John Lewis over its 2019 Christmas advert

A self-published author who was brought up in Retford is suing John Lewis over its 2019 Christmas advert.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 2:41 pm

Fay Evans alleges in her copyright infringement claim that there is a “striking similarity” between her children’s picture book, Fred the Fire-Sneezing Dragon, which she published herself in September 2017, and John Lewis’s advert about a trouble-making dragon.

John Lewis said it provided Ms Evans with the time-stamped documents that show the concept for its Christmas campaign was first presented to it in early 2016 – one year and seven months before her book was published.

Ms Evans's book is a story about a small green dragon whose fiery sneezes cause chaos and resentment, until he wins the affection of the humans by cooking their food with his flames.

Children's author Fay Evans (Picture: Tanya Lloyd Photography)

In the John Lewis advert, Edgar the dragon annoys the people in the town where he lives by melting a snowman and burning down their Christmas tree, until he pleases them by lighting their Christmas pudding.

Nearly two years since the advert was released on November 14 2019, Ms Evans has now issued proceedings to the specialist Intellectual Property division of the High Court of Justice.

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Fay, who was born in Gainsborough and grew up in Retford, where she attended King Edward VI School, said: “When I watched the John Lewis Christmas advert for the first time, I was gobsmacked – I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing unfold before me.

"The visual resemblance to the main character in Fred The Fire-Sneezing Dragon and the narrative similarity throughout was striking.”

John Lewis said it “would defend the claim robusly.”

In a statement the company said: “After giving Mrs Evans the timestamped documents showing the concept of our Christmas campaign was first presented to us in early 2016 – a year and seven months before her book was published.

“We are strongly opposed to having received this claim.

“We strongly deny that we have copied or taken inspiration from the book and we will defend the claim robustly.”

Ms Evans is being represented law firm Brandsmiths, intellectual property litigation specialists for brands and entrepreneurs.