Feds Charge Artist With Fraudulent Attempt to Take Credit for 'Kung Fu Panda'

According to prosecutors, Jayme Gordon fabricated evidence in a lawsuit against DreamWorks Animation.

It turns out there’s a fate far worse than paying a studio’s legal bill upon the failure of a copyright lawsuit. How about a possible 25-year prison sentence? Witness the fate ofJayme Gordon, who in 2013 was on theprecipice of a major trial againstDreamWorksAnimation over the blockbuster filmKungFuPanda.

Gordon sued DWA with word that the studio had lifted work he created in the1990s, including “a KungFufighting giant panda who likes to eat.”

He beat a summary judgment motion made by DWA and was able to depose Jeffrey Katzenberg aboutPanda Power materials allegedly sent in 1999. At the time, the judge noted, “Gordons 2000 and 2011 copyright registrations provide evidence of similarities between the overall works and the two main panda characters,” and further, “Katzenberg appears to have provided conflicting testimony regarding his procedures for handling unsolicited submissions.”

A few months before the trial,Gordonagreed to dismiss the caseover a film that grossed $630 million worldwide at the box office in 2008.

That happened in July 2013. The development came after DWA’s lawyersuncovered evidence of a 1996 Disney coloring book traced by Gordon.

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More than two years after DWA spent $3 million in legal costs successfully beating Gordon’s lawsuit, the FBI has announced that Gordon has been indicted on wire fraud and perjury charges,

Our intellectual property laws are designed to protect creative artists, not defraud them, said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz in a statement. The misuse of civil litigation as part of a fraud scheme, and lying under oath, as alleged in this case, warp our federal judicial system and must be addressed with appropriate criminal sanctions.

The indictment alleges that after seeing a trailer for Kung Fu Panda, Gordon revised his “Panda Power” drawing, renaming it “Kung Fu Panda Power,” and also fabricated and backdated sketches, all part of an alleged scheme to pushDWA into a settlement.