COLOURFUL new Australian $2 coins were supposed to be a touching gesture to celebrate the work of beloved children's author Mem Fox - but the fallout has become massive.

The Royal Canadian Mint, which is the official maker of the country's money, has said the commemorative Australian series, which celebrates the classic Mem Fox children's book Possum Magic, ripped off its unique process of painting colour onto metal.

A lawsuit was filed in the Australian Federal Court in December over half a million Remembrance Day $2 coins which featured red poppies. It has now been expanded to include the Possum Magic $2 coins.

The Possum Magic series was launched in August 2017 through Woolworths and featured three $2 coin designs with the colourful artworks designed with "magic dust" rings.

The Canadians are now demanding the Australian mint either destroy the hundreds of thousands of coins now in circulation, surrender its profits or pay damages.

The coins were released through Woolies last year. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
The coins were released through Woolies last year. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

However, the Australian government - which owns the Mint - has filed a countersuit.

It is hoped the government can overrule the patent because it did not involve enough "novelty" over previous methods.

The Mint is basically arguing that its method of colouring coins is different from the Canadian version.

The BBC reports that the Royal Australian Mint has been aware of Canada's claims since 2015, when a representative for the Canadian mint contacted them to try to resolve the issue informally, court documents show.

It is understood two parties even went so far as to meet in person at the World Money Fair in Berlin in 2016, but to no avail.

First published in 1983, the Possum Magic picture book became an iconic Aussie kids' favourite.

When the coins were released in 2017, Fox, 72, said she and the book's illustrator Julie Vivas had to approve each coin, which has been produced by the Royal Australian Mint.

Fox said the coins ‘look like heaven’. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
Fox said the coins ‘look like heaven’. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

The coins carry a different illustration of Hush, the main character in the book.

"We've had thousands of emails about the coins and my head is nearly blown off with excitement about this," she told News Corp Australia at the time.

"They all look like heaven."

Fox said Possum Magic is so "special" to her that she would never write a sequel to it, or turn it into a series.

"I tried once three years after it was born, but it's so special and it's unique, there's nothing else like it," she said.

"It would have wrecked it. I did try, but it was pathetic. I would have killed it. I slapped myself and didn't do it."

The Royal Australian Mint told SBS: "The Royal Australian Mint is vigorously defending its position and has subsequently filed a counterclaim in the Federal Court."



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