Friday, February 18, 2011

Litigation's A Bear for DreamWorks as Panda-monium Reigns in Two Courts

Kung Fu Panda film poster, with Po in the middle.Image via WikipediaIn Jayme Gordon v. DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. et al (Case No. 1:11-cv-10255-JLT), filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, a Boston illustrator has accused  the Glendale, Calif., studio behind megahit Kung Fu Panda of copyright infringement.

In a 28-page complaint, Gordon claims animated characters depicted in the 2008 DreamWorks film distributed by Paramount Pictures are substantially similar to illustrations of characters he created and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2000 that are collectively titled Kung Fu Panda Power. Gordon alleges that DreamWorks rejected illustrations he sent to them in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, as chronicled by The Hollywood Reporter's legal Web site, THR, Esq,, an earlier lawsuit against the makers of Kung Fu Panda is proceeding to the discovery phase in Los Angeles County Superior Court. In the six-page complaint, Terrence Dunn v. DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. et al. (Case No. BC438833), the plaintiff alleges breach of implied contract in fact, for which he is seeking more than $1 million in damages. Dunn claims he presented the idea of a kung-fu battling bear to DreamWorks executives in 2001 during a series of phone conversations.

Kung Fu Panda has grossed more than $215 million domestically and $631 million worldwide, with a sequel scheduled for release this year. Even if the defendants don't fare well in either court, they still won't be "Po."

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