Supreme Court rules in favour of Quebec animator Claude Robinson
Claude Robinson leaves the Supreme Court of Canada during a break in proceedings in Ottawa on Feb. 13, 2013. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Monday, December 23, 2013 10:40AM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 23, 2013 11:21AM EST
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled in favour of a Quebec animator after a legal battle that took nearly 20 years to settle.
Claude Robinson developed a cartoon character called Robinson Curiosite, a sort of buffoon explorer.
He shopped the idea around to various production companies but nobody showed any interest.
Robinson thought that was the end of it until a few years later, when he turned on his television and saw Robinson Sucroe, a show produced by Montreal-based animation company Cinar, starring a character that greatly resembled his design.
He launched a lawsuit in 1994. In 2009, he was awarded $5.2 million.
Cinar launched an appeal and in 2011, the Quebec Court of Appeal upheld the initial judgment.
But the Court of Appeal cut Robinson’s damages in half, to $2.7 million. Robinson decided to take his fight to the Supreme Court.
In its decision, the top court ruled the two works were similar in both easily perceptible and more subtle ways.
“Cinar. . . engaged in intentional and calculated copyright infringement, which they planned to keep secret all the while reaping profits from an internationally successful children’s television series,” the decision read.
Cinar was ordered to pay Robinson’s $1.5 million in legal costs, as well as $400,000 in punitive damages.