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Lawsuit says Potter books' ideas stolen

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- An author is suing the writer and publishers of the Harry Potter books, claiming that plots and characters in the wildly popular children's series originated with her.

Three books about Harry Potter, a young orphaned wizard, have sold 19 million copies in the United States, and a fourth is due for release in July.The author, J.K. Rowling of Scotland, has become a cult figure in her own right among the novels' readers. A movie based on the first book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is in the works.

But Nancy K. Stouffer of Camp Hill argues in her federal lawsuit that ideas for the Potter series were lifted from her 1984 book "The Legend of Rah and Muggles," which includes a character named Larry Potter.

"I think coincidences happen, but I still say if it looks like a duck and acts like a duck, it's a duck," said Stouffer, who also says she owns the trademark to the word "muggle."

Stouffer filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court on March 6 against Rowling and Scholastic Inc., the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter books. Her lawsuit also names Time Warner Entertainment Co., Mattel and Hasbro.

Scholastic, Rowling and Time Warner filed their own lawsuit in November in New York, asking a judge to rule that the Harry Potter books do not violate Stouffer's trademark and copyright.