A UK High Court judge hasrejected a copyright infringement claim filed over The Da Vinci Code.

Michael Baigentand Richard Leigh, the authors of the 1982 non-fiction work The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, hadaccused US author Dan Brown and his publisher Random House of appropriatingcentral themes from their work for his wildly popular thriller.

"The plaintiffs' case hasfailed. Dan Brown has not infringed copyright," the judge told the court. "Noneof this amounts to copying The Holy Bloodand the Holy Grail.'

Film industry watchers hadspeculated that if Brown had been found guilty of copyright infringement, itcould have impacted plans for release of the big-screen version of The Da Vinci Code,starring Tom Hanks. The film opens the Cannes Film Festival on May 17 beforeSony releases it worldwide.

Brown said in a statement:"Today's verdict shows that this claim was utterly without merit. I'm stillastonished that these two authors chose to file their suit at all."