Artist's 'Kung Fu Panda' Lawsuit Dismissed

By Betty Wang, JD on August 01, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

An artist's "Kung Fu Panda" lawsuit has been dismissed. Cartoonist Jayme Gordon, whose suit had actually survived a summary judgment motion a few months ago, has now withdrawn his claim.

Gordon had insisted that he was the original artist behind DreamWorks' "Kung Fu Panda," which came out in 2008. Gordon had backed up his claim with a copyright registration of his drawings from 2000 that seemed to bear (pun intended) an uncanny resemblance to Po, the main character in "Kung Fu Panda," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

DreamWorks, however, fought back with evidence of its own.

Tracing Gordon's Claims

To counter the "Kung Fu Panda" lawsuit's claims, DreamWorks hired its own version of the "Furious Five" -- a team of lawyers who dug into Gordon's past.

They found evidence that seemed to show Gordon had traced at least one of his drawings in 2000 from a Disney coloring book published in 1996. THR highlighted one example in a side-by-side comparison.

The evidence seemed to fly in the face of Gordon's sworn deposition, in which he flatly denied he'd ever borrowed elements from other artists' cartoons.

As DreamWorks' legal team was preparing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Gordon decided to drop the case.

Surviving Summary Judgment

If the case really was that weak, how did Gordon's lawsuit survive summary judgment in the first place?

In a motion for summary judgment, one party argues to a judge that there are no material facts in dispute in a case. The party then asks the judge to rule in his favor, asserting there's nothing left to argue or discuss at trial.

The purpose of summary judgment is to avoid the unnecessary time and money that would be needed for a trial. Ultimately, it is the judge's call whether or not summary judgment is appropriate.

In this case, DreamWorks moved for summary judgment, but the judge found that it was too early to decide the case at that point. The judge apparently felt there were issues in dispute, such as whether DreamWorks had independently developed the film, and whether Gordon's work played any part in the process, according to THR.

It's all a moot point now that the lawsuit's been dismissed. For Gordon, that may mean that it's time to go back to the drawing board.

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