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Illustrator sues DreamWorks Animation over fun-loving panda character

February 18, 2011 |  6:00 am

Kung Fu 
A Boston illustrator is alleging that DreamWorks Animation lifted his ideas for the characters depicted in the hit 2008 movie "Kung Fu Panda."

Jayme Gordon filed a federal copyright infringement lawsuit against the Glendale studio Wednesday, alleging that the overweight panda featured in the movie and his band of fighters were based on sketches and drawings that he created in the late 1980s and 1990s, called "Kung Fu Panda Power."

"Characters featured in the 'Kung Fu Panda' film and 'Secrets of the Furious Five' film (a direct to video spinoff) are unlawful copies of, derivative works of, and substantially similar, even strikingly similar to, the  characters in Gordon's 'Kung Fu Panda Power Work,' '' said the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts.

Gordon featured some of the characters on clothing he sold in a Boston store called Animation Station and were part of a portfolio of work he sent to various publishers and studios, including DreamWorks, which sent him a letter of rejection in 1999, the lawsuit said.

A spokeswoman for DreamWorks Animation declined to comment. The sequel to "Kung Fu Panda" is set to be released in May.

Photo: These pictures were featured in the federal  copyright infringement lawsuit filed against DreamWorks Animation in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts. The sketch on the left is by Jayme Gordon, the plaintiff in the case; the image on the right is from DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda," featuring the panda named Po (Jack Black) and his trainer, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman).