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Writer Claims Harlequin|Plagiarized Her Book

HOUSTON (CN) - A romance writer claims in Federal Court that a Harlequin book plagiarized her novel "How to Love a Billionaire."

Kelly Rucker sued Harlequin Enterprises Limited in Federal Court.

She claims the Harlequin book "The Proud Wife" contains "over forty (40) instances of direct copyright infringement."

Harlequin, a Toronto-based publisher of romance novels, publishes more than "110 titles a month in 31 languages in 111 international markets on six continents," according to its website.

Rucker claims she finished her book in 2009 and submitted it to several writing contests sponsored by the Romantic Writers of America (RWA).

She says in her complaint that "Harlequin representatives and authors, including the alleged author of the infringing work, are known to and even are advertised as those who serve as judges for these creative writing contests. Specifically, the work was submitted to the '2010 spring into Romance Contest' sponsored by the RWA-San Diego Chapter. The work was selected as a finalist at that contest."

Rucker claims "that Harlequin representatives and/or authors copied Ms. Rucker's Work through the access to the Work through Harlequin's service to RWA."

She says Harlequin published "The Proud Wife" in 2011 and sold it through the company's website, at Wal-Mart and on Amazon.com.

She claims that "the infringing work has been financially successful in terms of sales in the United States, this state, and this district. The infringing work has also received positive reviews and acclaim from those who review and critique novels that are published in the relevant genre.

"In fact, upon information and belief, the infringing work has been nominated for the prestigious 'Harlequin Presents Extra Book of the Year' for the Romantic Times Awards for 2012.

"Without any knowledge of defendant's infringement, in late 2011, Ms. Rucker purchased the infringing work. She was shocked to discover that the book was an infringement of her work.

"Ms. Rucker prepared a side-by-side comparison of Ms. Rucker's Work and the infringing work. Upon information and belief, the infringing work contains over forty (40) instances of direct copyright infringement of plaintiff's protected creative expression that is the subject of the work.

"Therefore, upon information and belief, the infringing work was pirated from plaintiff's creative expression contained in the work, and the infringing work is substantially similar to plaintiff's work."

The 8-page complaint does not cite any examples of the allegedly plagiarized passages.

Rucker seeks damages equal to Harlequin's profits from "The Proud Wife," and damages for copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement and vicarious copyright infringement.

She is represented by Paul Beik.

Follow @cam_langford
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