A Massachusetts man who sued DreamWorks Animation in 2011 claiming it stole the idea for Kung Fu Panda from him has been indicted for wire fraud and perjury in connection with a scheme to defraud the studio.
According to the indictment, Jayme Gordon, 51, filed the lawsuit as part of a scheme to obtain a multimillion-dollar settlement from DWA. The indictment states that to further his fraud and persuade the studio to agree to a settlement, Gordon fabricated and backdated drawings of characters similar to those in Kung Fu Panda, lied repeatedly during his deposition, and destroyed computer evidence that he was required to produce as part of the discovery process for his lawsuit.
“Our intellectual property laws are designed to protect creative artists, not defraud them,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “The misuse of civil litigation as part of a fraud scheme, and lying under oath, as alleged in this case, warp our federal judicial system and must be addressed with appropriate criminal sanctions.”
“Mr. Gordon went to great lengths to orchestrate and maintain this fraudulent scheme, trying to take credit for ideas he did not come up with nor work he simply did not do,” said Harold H. Shaw, the FBI’s special agent in charge of its Boston field division. “This case demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to root out individuals who try to steal ideas and information from hard-working American companies.”
The indictment alleges that the further his scheme, Gordon fabricated and backdated sketches that served as support for his suit, and that the full nature of his ruse came to light when DWA discovered that he’d traced some of his panda drawings from a Disney Lion King coloring book. Some of Gordon’s sketches, which were dated 1993 or 1994, were copied from the book, which was not published until 1996.
After DreamWorks discovered the tracing, Gordon agreed to dismiss his suit. But by that point, DreamWorks had spent more than two years defending the fraudulent suit, at a cost of about $3 million.
If convicted, Gordon faces up to 20 years in federal prison on the wire fraud charge, and up to five years on the perjury charge, plus fines of $250,000 on each of the two charges.