The novel is based on the controversial premise that there is a conspiracy within the Roman Catholic Church to cover up the true story of Jesus. The novel has helped generate popular interest in speculation concerning the Holy Grail legend and the role of Mary Magdalene in the history of Christianity. According to the premise of the novel, the Vatican knows it is living a lie, but continues to do so to keep itself in power.

“Two authors who failed to persuade Britain’s High court that Dan Brown stole their ideas for his blockbuster novel The Da Vinci Code were taking their case to the Court of Appeal yesterday.”

The Da Vinci Code is one of the worldwide bestseller with more than 60.5 million copies in print and has been translated into 44 languages. The novel was thence filmed into movie in 2006 by Columbia Pictures. http://www.danbrown.com/novels/davinci_code/reviews.html

The mystery/detective novel published in 2003 by Doubleday has made the American author, Dan Brown, to be one of the famous names worldwide. It is a cash machine to this talented author. While enjoying his moment of glory and monetary award, Dan Brown is also facing a lawsuit from Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh.

Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln are the author of the “Holy Blood, Holy Grail”, (http://www.amazon.com/Holy-Blood-Grail-Michael-Baigent/dp/0440136482 ) another multimillion-selling thriller. Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, who wrote the book in 1982 have filed a lawsuit towards Random House, the publisher of both books in early 2006. Henry Lincoln didn’t involve in this legal case. This case was filed in London High Court.

In 07 April 2006, the High Court has ruled that Dan Brown did not breach the copyright of the “Holy Blood, Holy Grail”. The judge, Mr. Justice Peter Smith has denied Mr Baigent and Mr Leigh’s argument that that Dan Brown copied their book’s “central theme”. (Both books explore the theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child and the bloodline survives to this day).

Mr Justice Peter Smith said: “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail did not have a central theme in the way its authors suggested….. It was an artificial creation for the purposes of the litigation working back from the Da Vinci Code…. Dan Brown did use the previous book to write certain parts of his thriller, but did not substantially copy their work”. Read the Da Vinci Code’s judgment here.

The Judge’s ruling cleared the way for the Da Vinci Code movie’s release in May 2006 and it also stated that Mr Baigent and Mr Leigh must pay 85% of Random House’s costs of almost £1.3m. Mr Justice Smith also ordered Mr Leigh and Mr Baigent to make an interim payment of £350,000 by 5 May and refused the authors permission to appeal.

After the hearing judgment, Mr Leigh told reporters outside the court: “I think by its very nature, this case entailed a conflict between the spirit of the law and the letter of the law…. We lost on the letter of the law, I think we won on the spirit of the law, and to that extent we feel vindicated”.

Despite the judge’s ruling, Mr Baigent and Mr Leigh said they intend to appeal. And now, they have finally filed their case to Court of Appeal!

Many people are of the opinion that the chances for Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh to win are very slim. No matter how will the result be, both “Da Vinci Code” and “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” are considered successful novels by their own.

Also read from Michael Baigent’s comment that published in The Independent on 16 December 2006.

‘We had to sue Dan Brown. It has been a very time-consuming and bitter battle’

Born in New Zealand in 1948, author Michael Baigent collaborated with Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln on the 1982 blockbuster The Holy Blood And The Holy Grail, whose ideas were later incorporated into Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. The editor of Freemasonry Today, he lives in the south of England with his wife and four children.

How did I first meet Richard? Well, it’s a long story. I’d done a degree in psychology in New Zealand, but then went into photography and travelled to Bolivia where I became fascinated by the ancient ruins there, convinced they’d make the perfect subject for a television documentary. I later drifted to Spain and finally to England, still trying to hawk my documentary idea, but I had to accept that it simply wasn’t commercially viable, and so I dropped it.

However, I was also interested in the Knights Templar [a Christian military order in the Middle Ages], and an acquaintance of mine put me in touch with Richard, who also had an interest. I thought that this could become my documentary instead. Several years later and after an enormous amount of research – I love to be out in the field, stomping through forests and looking at ruins – it became a book instead: The Holy Blood And The Holy Grail.

Who could have predicted that it would have become such a success, remaining in print for the next 25 years [with 2 million copies sold to date]? All we knew at the time was that this was a story that needed to tell itself, and that if we didn’t tell it, somebody else would.

The book [which suggests that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene and had children whose descendants are alive today] was controversial. We were on the front page of every newspaper in the world, and all over chat shows in America. This caused certain problems, however, particularly among fundamentalist Christians, who have been hounding me ever since, telling me that I’m going to hell and that I should beg for mercy. A pain in the arse, frankly.

Over the years, I’d say that Richard has become my closest friend, even though we very rarely see each other because we live so far apart. I can travel, for research purposes, up to six months a year, but we do speak all the time on the phone, and more than ever recently because of the court case against Dan Brown [mounted earlier this year, for plagiarism]. We had no alternative to sue, as we saw it as a blatant exploitation of our intellectual property. We lost the case, of course…

Has it cost us a lot of money? Oh fuck, oh fuck! Close to £2 million. It’s been terrible. The case is going to appeal in January, and while I’d like to say I’m optimistic of the outcome, it’s the law. Can you ever be optimistic of winning against the law?

Born in New Jersey, Richard Leigh moved to Britain in the mid 1970s to become a writer of literary fiction. His partnership with Michael Baigent, however, took him down a rather different path, albeit a hugely successful one. He is 63 years old, single, and lives in London.

I never felt particularly American, despite being born and bred there. My father was British, my mother Viennese, and I came to London in 1974 simply because I had become disgusted with America – for a variety of reasons – and also to pursue my career as a writer.

My chief commitment all along has been literary fiction, and my pantheon was a lofty one: Joyce, Proust, Thomas Mann. To some extent, then, The Holy Blood And The Holy Grail and everything that followed thereafter [Leigh and Baigent have collaborated on six books] were distractions from my own work. In many ways, I’ve spent more than 25 years writing books I never really wanted to write.

Yes, The Holy Blood did bring in money – though that money was divided – and there were passages in the book in which I was free to go for a gallop on one or other hobbyhorse, but there were other, larger sections that were onerous to me, in which I felt I was simply going through the motions.

Of course, initially, Michael had the idea for this to be a documentary, but it was my agent who said it had more potential as a book. He suggested that this would pave the way for my own books, which turned out to be a sick joke. Anyway, I reluctantly agreed to write the prose while Michael did much of the fieldwork, but once the contract came through, the publishers expected a once-in-a-lifetime story every two years. It was a chore.

The controversy upon the publication of our first book never really affected me. I didn’t have a vested interest in it in the same way that Michael did. The research was purely an intellectual exercise; I enjoyed it for that alone. The finished article simply didn’t have the same import for me as literary fiction.

Nevertheless, Michael and I did make good collaborators, which is why we worked together again several times over, and I’m sure we’ll work together in the future as well.

I heard about the Dan Brown book on the internet, long before its publication, and reading up on it led me to believe that it was a work of important semiotic fiction comparable to Umberto Eco and Arturo Pérez-Reverte. But upon leafing through it, I quickly realised that it wasn’t serious literary fiction at all. Not only that, but we believed it had also flagrantly availed itself of our material. So of course we had to sue. It has been a very time-consuming and bitter battle.

In the meantime, I am hoping to return to my own work. I have a collection of short stories out now, and a larger novel is ready for publication. Is it the fiction I’ve spent so long wanting to write? I don’t know, I really don’t know.

Da Vinci Code was release in 2006 and starring Tom Hanks, Jean Reno, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Paul Bettany, Alfred Molina.