Saturday, March 09, 2013
An unpublished author sued Harlequin on the assumption that an un-named Harlequin judge from an unspecified contest must have stolen ideas from her first chapter and synopsis for an unpublished manuscript. The major allegedly original ideas from her manuscript found in the published title "The Proud Wife seem to be:
- A rich husband
- A red-haired wife
- A miscarriage (the causes differ)
- Estrangement of the marriage (the reasons differ), followed by reconciliation
- A new pregnancy
These are, as Harlequin asserts "generic concepts such as scenes-a-faire, nondistinct characters, and common tropes in the romance genre".
The complaint was dismissed, with prejudice, stating: "A theme or trope that has long existed is not “expression” that the Copyright Act protects.".
The only result other than a lot of wasted time and money is probably that Harlequin editors will be less eager to donate their time and expertise to contests.