FBI closes the case of "Kung Fu Panda" fraud

Published: Jun. 29, 2017 at 9:57 PM CDT
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(WVUE) - A federal jury in Boston convicted a Massachusetts man who claimed Disney's DreamWorks stole his ideas for "Kung Fu Panda."

The Federal Bureau of Investigations says Jayme Gordon claimed to have evidence to prove his civil case against DreamWorks Animation, SKG, Inc. "But it was all lies," said Special Agent Scott McGaunn, who investigated the case from the FBI's Boston Division.

Gordon filed the copyright infringement suit in 2011 and was seeking more than $12 million in damages.

The FBI says DreamWorks vigorously defended its intellectual property during a court case that dragged on for years.

Investigators say Gordon had created drawings and a story about pandas which he called "Panda Power." The FBI says Gordon's pandas bore little resemblance to the movie characters. Investigators said after Gordon saw a movie trailer for "Kung Fu Panda," he revised his original drawings and story and renamed them "Kung Fu Panda Power."

"He was using the legal system to try and extort over $12 million from DreamWorks," McGaunn said.

The FBI says evidence was produced that showed Gordon had traced some panda pictures from a Disney coloring book. Gordon claimed he created the drawings in 1992 and 1993. The coloring book was published in 1996.

"The coloring book discovery was the smoking gun in the civil case," McGaunn said.

Gordon dropped his copyright infringement case, but then the FBI opened a criminal case against him.

A jury convicted him of perjury and wire fraud. In May 2017, a judge sentenced him to two years in prison and Gordon was ordered to pay more than $3 million in restitution.

"It's possible that when Gordon first saw the movie he had believed that DreamWorks stole something from him—that he came up with the original idea for a kung fu fighting panda," McGaunn said. "But even if he did initially believe that, his actions afterward were criminal: He copied and backdated others' drawings, destroyed computer evidence he was ordered to turn over, and lied under oath—all to further his civil suit."

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