05:06, May 04 341 0 theguardian.com

2017-05-04 05:06:02
Cartoonist who claimed to be Kung Fu Panda creator jailed for two years

A cartoonist who falsely claimed to be the creator of Kung Fu Panda has been sentenced to two years in prison for fraud and ordered to pay $3m (£2.3m) in damages.

Jayme Gordon, from Randolph, Massachusetts, filed a copyright lawsuit in 2011 alleging that DreamWorks Animation had stolen characters and story from him for the 2008 animated comedy.

Prosecutors argued that Gordon, having seen the trailer for Kung Fu Panda, had fabricated and backdated drawings of characters similar to those seen in the film. He had previously created drawings and a story about pandas that bore little resemblance to the movie. However, after seeing the trailer he amended his drawings and renamed his story Kung Fu Panda Power.

Gordon, 51, sued DreamWorks for copyright infringement and proposed that the company settle for $12m. DreamWorks refused to settle, and litigation continued for a further two years, costing the studio $3m in legal fees.

Dreamworks later discovered that Gordon had traced some of his sketches from a colouring book featuring characters from Disney’s The Lion King, prosecutors said. Gordon also deleted evidence from his computer and lied under oath. He was convicted of fraud and perjury by a federal jury in November.

Gordon’s conviction comes at a busy time for copyright claims in Hollywood. In March a Total Recall screenwriter filed a lawsuit accusing Disney of stealing his idea for the film Zootopia. Earlier this week the same studio won an appeals court victory over a Florida author who claimed they had used his work for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.