We are delighted to have acted for John Lewis and adam&eve in successfully defending a claim that they had infringed the copyright in a children’s book when creating a much-loved John Lewis and Waitrose Christmas ad. The author of the self-published book first made her allegations back in 2019 and has publicised her claims on several occasions since then.

We have published a detailed run down of the case here, and by way of summary:

  • The claimant, Fay Evans, alleged that John Lewis and their advertising agency, adam&eve, had copied her self-published book, ‘Fred the Fire-sneezing Dragon’, when they created the 2019 Christmas ad ‘Excitable Edgar’ and a book of the same name.
  • Alongside the legal proceedings, Ms Evans embarked on a media campaign, garnering press attention in numerous national and trade publications.
  • John Lewis and adam&eve denied the claim, saying that they had not been aware of her book. Instead, they had used an idea that had been pitched to John Lewis by adam&eve before Ms Evans’ book was published. They also pointed to substantial differences between Ms Evans’ book and the Excitable Edgar ad and book.
  • John Lewis and adam&eve also brought a counterclaim, seeking a declaration that they had not infringed the copyright in her book, and (unusually) asking for an order that Ms Evans publicise the judgment.

Following a trial in January this year, which also attracted considerable press coverage, the High Court has found decisively in favour of John Lewis and adam&eve. The court not only found that they had created the ad and book independently of Ms Evans’ work, and therefore without infringing it, but also granted the order requiring Ms Evans to publicise the judgment on her website and social media accounts. We believe that is this the first time an unsuccessful claimant in a copyright claim has been required to publicise the failure of the claim.

This is the story of two respectable and renowned businesses who stood together against unwarranted allegations, and came out with their reputations restored.