John Lewis wins copyright lawsuit over sneezing Excitable Edgar dragon Christmas commercial

John Lewis has won a lawsuit after a children’s book author claimed the retailer copied one of her designs for a Christmas ad.

Fay Evans, a self-published author from Macclesfield, Cheshire, claimed the company’s two-and-a-half minute “Excitable Edgar” ad which aired in 2019 bore “striking” similarities to her own work “Fred The Fire-Sneezing Dragon”.

She sued both John Lewis and creative agency adam&eveDDB, which was the first to develop the Christmas advertising concept.

But a Supreme Court judge on Monday rejected her claim, saying the idea of ​​a sneezing dragon was “very old indeed”, and ordered Ms Evans to publish the outcome on her website.

In a 40-page ruling that at one point discussed the mythological origins of dragons, Magistrate Clarke ruled that there had been no copyright infringement and that there was “not a shred of evidence” that John Lewis or her agencies had seen Ms. Evans’ story before the legal battle began.

“I’m satisfied with the likelihood that… there couldn’t have been a copy,” she added.

Dragons are mythological creatures dating back to “ancient times,” according to the ruling, and are even used as a cipher for the devil at one stage in the King James Bible, which describes how “its sneezes flash light.”

The John Lewis advert first aired in November 2019 and Ms Evans was quick to suggest on social media that it was copied from her own story.

Both stories feature friendly dragons living in human worlds who initially struggle to fit in due to their fire-breathing abilities.

For example, in the John Lewis ad, Edgar gets excited and accidentally melts a snowman being built by two kids; reduces a Christmas tree to an ember; and melts an ice rink on which people skate.

He later finds his calling when a little girl gives him a Christmas pudding which he takes to a village banquet and set ablaze by all.

Mrs. Evans’ rhyming story, meanwhile, features a sneezing dragon named Fred, who similarly cannot control his fiery outbursts at school.

He struggles until he is encouraged to use his power to cook meals for fellow students.