Christian Retailing

Nelson sues over 'Gigi infringement' Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Thursday, 19 November 2009 03:20 PM America/New_York

Thomas Nelson has filed a federal lawsuit against Zondervan and an illustrator over a copyright infringement regarding its popular "Gigi, God's Little Princess" children's book series, The Tennessean reported.

In the lawsuit filed Nov. 13, Nelson claims that Zondervan's new "Princess Twins" children's books--released earlier this year--interfered with the Nashville publisher's business and that it had contracted with California illustrator Meredith Johnson to provide illustrations for children's books and related products for the "Gigi, God's Little Princess" series. The series' latest DVD--Gigi's First Day of School--was the top-selling Christian video for two weeks in September, according to SoundScan charts.

Zondervan's Princess Emma and Nelson's Gigi "both have round faces, dark wavy hair, button noses, two prominent front teeth and virtually identical smiles," according to the lawsuit-which added that several storylines are the same, and each girl has a white cat. Johnson "apparently remained disgruntled with the compensation" from Nelson, and she negotiated a deal with Zondervan for the "Princess Twins" books, the complaint claims, The Tennessean reported.

Lindsey Nobles, director of corporate communications, told Christian Retailing that the suit was a last resort. "We regret that Ms. Johnson and Zondervan left us with no option but to file this suit to protect the rights relating to our Gigi Princess property," she said.

Jason Vines, Zondervan's vice president of public relations and communications, told Christian Retailing that the Michigan-based publisher does not comment on pending litigation. "Having said that, we are curious about the basis for this one," he said. "Our princesses are European-based medieval times princesses, not a modern-day little girl who dresses up like a princess."

Johnson, the Los Angeles-based illustrator of both series, told The Tennessean that she had not yet been told about the lawsuit, but she takes great care to see that each character matches the story--not each other.