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Illustrator sues animation studio

By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / February 19, 2011

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Just as the sequel to “Kung Fu Panda’’ is about to come out, DreamWorks Animation is being accused of stealing the idea for the successful film franchise. Jayme Gordon, an illustrator from Randolph, filed a lawsuit in Boston this week claiming that the pudgy panda voiced in the movie by Jack Black is based on sketches he made in the 1990s called “Kung Fu Panda Power.’’ “Characters featured in the ‘Kung Fu Panda’ film . . . are unlawful copies of, derivative works of, and substantially similar, even strikingly similar to, the characters in Gordon’s ‘Kung Fu Panda Power’ work,’’ according to the lawsuit filed in US District Court. Gordon’s panda, named Kidd, is trained in the martial arts and has a small, red companion named Redd. The “Kung Fu Panda’’ character, named Po, is trained in the martial arts by a small red panda named Master Shifu. Gordon isn’t talking about the lawsuit and neither is his attorney. “The complaint speaks for itself,’’ Greg Madera of Fish & Richardson told us yesterday. (DreamWorks has declined to comment on the suit.) Gordon claims he sent his copyrighted sketches to Disney and DreamWorks in the late ’90s, but received only a rejection letter in return. He is seeking unspecified compensation. Released in 2008, “Kung Fu Panda’’ grossed more than $630 million worldwide. The sequel, “Kung Fu Panda 2,’’ comes out in May.