Artist takes on Cinar in plagiarism suit
A plagiarism lawsuit involving a popular cartoon character got underway in Montreal this week after nearly a decade of legal obstacles.
Quebec cartoonist Claude Robinson has accused Cinar Films Inc. of stealing one of his creations based on the character of Robinson Crusoe, and is seeking more than $10 million in compensation from the company and broadcasting affiliates France Animation, the British Broadcasting Corp. and Ravensburger.
Robinson claims he submitted an idea for an animated series to the Quebec production company in 1986 that revolved around a character named Robinson Curiosité, inspired by the English castaway hero. Cinar rejected the idea at the time.
A few years later the children's animation firm produced a series called "Robinson Sucroe" that aired around the world, which Robinson said closely resembled his concept.
"After 13 years, I am still revolted," he told CBC's French-language service on Tuesday. "Now, I finally have the chance to say it to a judge."
Cinar, whose roster of animated shows includes the popular programs Arthur and Caillou, has defended its cartoon series by saying any resemblance with Robinson's character is due to the concepts' original inspiration in the classic British novel.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
Robinson launched his lawsuit in 1996 but is only getting his day in court now because of Cinar's unrelated legal difficulties, including being accused of tax fraud in 2000.
The company was sold to a group led by the founder of the Nelvana film company for $143.9 million US in 2003.