Entertainment & Arts

US man accused of Kung Fu Panda fraud

Po in Kung Fu Panda Image copyright DreamWorks Animation
Image caption Panda Po, voiced by Jack Black, is the star of the Kung Fu Panda films

A Massachusetts man has been accused of fraud and perjury by prosecutors for allegedly back-dating drawings that he used as evidence to sue DreamWorks.

Jayme Gordon, 51, took out a lawsuit in 2011 against the company behind the Kung Fu Panda films, claiming he had invented the title character.

Prosecutors say Mr Gordon created his scheme after seeing a trailer for the first film in the series in 2008.

His lawyer, Robert Griffin, said his client "maintains his innocence".

Authorities allege Mr Gordon's idea was to make it look like the film was based on sketches he had made for a story he had already written, entitled Panda Power.

He filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against DreamWorks and suggested a settlement of $12m (£8m), which the company rejected.

Authorities said Mr Gordon had deleted evidence on his computer that he would have been required to hand over under court rules.

Colouring book

It is alleged Mr Gordon had traced some of his panda drawings from a Lion King colouring book published in 1996, dating his own drawings from 1993 and 1994.

When DreamWorks produced this evidence to Mr Gordon, he agreed to dismiss the legal action that had already cost the company $3m (£2m) to defend.

"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," said Boston FBI agent Harold Shaw.

"This case demonstrates the FBI's commitment to root out individuals who try to steal ideas and information from hard-working American companies."

Mr Gordon is charged with four counts of wire fraud and three counts of perjury. If convicted of the most serious charges, he could face up to 20 years in jail.

The original Kung Fu Panda film was released in 2008, with a sequel coming out three years later.

The third film in the computer animated series will be released in January in the US and in March in the UK.

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