-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
DreamWorks has been hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit. Jayme Gordon filed his lawsuit in federal court in Boston claiming that DreamWorks is infringing on his copyrights on the idea of a chunky panda with kung fu prowess, as well as several other animal characters.
The complaint alleges striking similarities between Gordon’s work and DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda. The image at left is from the complaint and lends credence to that allegation.
The complaint also alleges that the defendants had the opportunity to view Gordon’s illustrations. He met Michael Eisner at a Disney World event and was asked to supply his works to Disney, which Gordon did. At the time Eisner was Chairman and CEO of Disney and supervisor to Jeffrey Katzenberg who was Chairman of Walt Disney Studios. Katzenberg would later formed DreamWorks Studios with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.
Assuming the allegations are true, I don’t understand the motive. Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to purchase the copyrighted material than to go through a lawsuit? Sure, they can drag out the lawsuit for years, incurring more in attorney fees than it would have cost them originally. Maybe not. Maybe they considered the risk that Gordon would sue acceptable. As a contingency plan, DreamWorks’ attorneys should be working on a settlement offer.
I’m assuming that Gordon’s attorneys are working on a contingency basis. In his suit, Gordon seeks all profits “in an amount which cannot yet be fully ascertained, but which shall be assessed at the time of trial.” It’s going to take an army of accountants to dig through the morass that is a studio’s bookkeeping.
Kung Fu Panda 2 is scheduled for release on May 26.