The Supreme Court of Canada will resolve a bitter battle between two Quebec women for legal guardianship over Caillou, an imaginary child immortalized worldwide in novels and an animated television show.
The high court agreed Thursday to hear arguments from lawyers for Caillou's co-creators, illustrator Helene Desputeaux and author Christine L'Heureux.
The two have been embroiled in a five-year court fight for sole intellectual property rights over Caillou, who resembles a young Charlie Brown and has become a star among youngsters in 72 countries. L'Heureux wrote the first series of Caillou books and founded Editions Chouette, the company which publishes the stories.
Desputeaux, the original Caillou illustrator, argues that she has not yet received all of the royalties due to her from sales of Caillou books and other products based on the bubbly bald child.
An arbitrator and a Quebec Superior Court judge have both ruled in favour of L'Heureux and Editions Chouette. But the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned the ruling last April.
Lawyers for L'Heureux sought and were granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. No date for the hearing has been set.
L'Heureux said Thursday that the spat is dragging down the image of the smiling character, who routinely urges children to "get along" through play and perky songs.
Aside from questions of intellectual property rights there's also a large, but undisclosed, sum of money at stake in the Caillou dispute. The worldwide success of the character has led to a successful line of toys that generate substantial revenues. Caillou's adventures have also been translated into 15 languages and thousands of books have been sold worldwide. The character is seen on television and video in 72 countries.