Artist Jayme Gordon has filed a complaint against DreamWorks in Massachusetts, claiming that its film, “Kung Fu Panda,” infringed his copyrighted works. His works were collectively titled “Kung Fu Panda Power ” and were registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2000. THR, Esq. Gordon argues that DreamWorks not only copied the title of his work, but also the characters.
Simultaneously, DreamWorks is fighting another lawsuit brought by a writer named Terence Dunn. He claims to have discussed the story of a “spiritual kung-fu fighting panda bear” with DreamWorks executives on the phone in November, 2001.
Gordon’s lawsuit, filed on Feb. 16, is a bit more complicated. According to the complaint, Gordon submitted his works to The Walt Disney Co. in the late 1980s or early 1990s. He was later invited to a meeting with then-chairman Michael Eisner. At the time of the meeting, Jeffrey Katzenberg was employed by Disney and Eisner was his superior. In 1994, Katzenberg left Disney and formed DreamWorks Studios with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. Gordon claims that he sent his work to DreamWorks in the late 1990s, but DreamWorks rejected it.
The argument is that DreamWorks had access to Gordon’s work; hence DreamWorks may be guilty of copyright infringement if the works are substantially similar. Besides monetary damages, Gordon is demanding “an acknowledgment of authorship on both Kung Fu Panda and its forthchoming sequel, scheduled for release in May.“