Who could have predicted that the star of the John Lewis Christmas TV ad 2019, Edgar the Dragon, would be debated in court? In April 2023, John Lewis won a court case brought by children’s author Fay Evans, who had claimed that the dragon resembled her character Fred the Fire-Sneezing Dragon.
Evans, a self-published children’s author, claimed that the dragon from the John Lewis Christmas advert in 2019 infringed on the copyright from her picture book published two years prior. The author sued both John Lewis and Adam&EveDBB, the creative agency behind many of the best John Lewis Christmas ads of all time.
However, at the beginning of April in a High Court hearing, Judge Clarke ruled that any similarities between the two characters “can easily be explained by coincidence rather than copying”, and that there was “not a scrap of evidence” that anyone from either the retailer or the ad agency had seen Evans’ book before creating the advert concept.
The popular John Lewis advert in question was produced for Christmas 2019 and features an adorable animated dragon who learns how to put his excitement-induced fire breathing to good use for a festive feast.
Around the time it first aired, author Evans posted on social media claiming that the character was in some way copied from her own creation. However, during the court case, Adam&EveDBB claimed that the concept for the dragon was itself first pitched to John Lewis back in 2016.
Part of Evans’ claim seemingly came from the fact that the Christmas short actually spawned some spin-off products too. Search for ‘John Lewis Christmas advert dragon toy’ and you’ll still find listings available for a soft version of Edgar, and the ad also inspired a book called Excitable Edgar.
Judge Clarke made reference to the fact that Evans had seemingly used the release of the John Lewis 2020 Christmas ad and the 2021 version to generate publicity for a musical based on her character. Responding to the outcome of the case, Evans commented “From today I’m looking forward to writing more original stories for children and developing Fred The Musical, ready for its premiere in July 2023 at the Liverpool Theatre Festival.”
What do you make of the ruling? Let us know your thoughts on the John Lewis dragon court case below!