Judge: 'Da Vinci Code' Ideas Not Stolen

LONDON (AP) -- A British judge ruled Friday that best-selling thriller "The Da Vinci Code" did not steal ideas from two authors' nonfiction book.

High Court judge Peter Smith rejected a copyright-infringement claim by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail," who claimed that Dan Brown's blockbuster "appropriated the architecture" of their 1982 book. In the United States, the book is titled, "Holy Blood, Holy Grail."

"Today's verdict shows that this claim was utterly without merit, I'm still astonished that these two authors chose to file their suit at all," Brown in a statement, adding that he was "eager to get back to writing."

"I'm pleased with today's outcome, not only from a personal standpoint but also as a novelist," he said.

Both books explore theories that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, the couple had a child and the bloodline survives. Most historians and theologians scoff at such ideas, but Brown's fast-paced mix of murder, mysticism, code-breaking and art history has won millions of fans.

"The Da Vinci Code" has sold more than 40 million copies _ including 12 million hardcovers in the United States _ since it was released in March 2003. It came out in paperback in the United States last week, and quickly sold more than 500,000 copies, an astonishing pace for a paperback release. An initial print run of 5 million has already been raised to 6 million.