June 26, 2003 11:00 AM

While J.K. Rowling is busy making headlines, another author of 17 children’s books is quietly waging his own battle — against Steven Spielberg in a British court.

Alan Davidson is suing the famed filmmaker and “Wallace and Gromit” animators Peter Lord and Nick Park for unspecified millions of dollars in damages, claiming Spielberg’s DreamWorks studio stole his idea for Lord and Parks’s 2000 computer-animated hit “Chicken Run,” the Associated Press reports.

Davidson’s 1995 book, “Escape from Cold Ditch,” reportedly deals with a hen that leads a WWII-like escape from a chicken farm, and he claims “Chicken Run” is unfairly credited to Lord and Park.

In papers filed Tuesday at Lewes County Court in southern England, Davidson slapped suits against DreamWorks and Peter Lord’s Aardman Animations. While Davidson refused comment to AP, a spokesman for his family reportedly called the legal action “a matter of principle and honesty.”

Davidson’s papers, besides citing a number of similarities between “Escape From Cold Ditch” and “Chicken Run,” also notes that the film, which featured the voice of Mel Gibson, among others, has netted more than $160 million theatrically, on home video and through tie-in merchandising.

A spokesman for Aardman said, “We deny that there is any basis whatsoever for Mr. Davidson’s claim, and we intend to defend the litigation.”

A Los Angeles-based DreamWorks spokeswoman said she was not aware that legal action had been filed, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reports.

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