BOSTON (Reuters) - A Massachusetts man was sentenced on Wednesday to two years in prison after being convicted of trying to defraud DreamWorks Animation through a bogus copyright lawsuit claiming it stole the characters and story from him for its film “Kung Fu Panda.”
Prosecutors in Boston said that after seeing a trailer for the yet-to-be-released animated film in 2008, Jayme Gordon fabricated and backdated drawings of characters similar to those in the film, which he used for a lawsuit against the company.
He previously created some drawings and a story about pandas that prosecutors said bore little resemblance to the movie’s characters. After seeing the trailer, he revised the drawings and story and renamed it “Kung Fu Panda Power,” they said.
In 2011, Gordon sued DreamWorks for copyright infringement and proposed that the company settle the lawsuit for $12 million, prosecutors said. DreamWorks rejected that proposal, they said, leading to two more years of litigation.
His scheme failed after DreamWorks discovered that some of Gordon’s drawings had been traced from a coloring book featuring Walt Disney Co characters from the 1994 film “The Lion King,” prosecutors said.
Gordon subsequently agreed to dismiss his lawsuit against DreamWorks, which also produced the “Madagascar” and “How to Train Your Dragon” films. By that time, the company had spent $3 million defending itself, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors had sought a five-year prison sentence for Gordon, 51, of Randolph, Massachusetts, who was found guilty by a federal jury in November on charges of wire fraud and perjury.
His lawyer, Jeffrey Denner, sought a sentence of probation, citing psychiatric issues as a mitigating factor.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Patti Saris in Boston, who imposed the two-year prison term, also ordered Gordon to pay more than $3 million restitution, prosecutors said.
Denner in an interview said he believed the judge was fair in imposing the sentence. He said Gordon had not decided whether to appeal his trial conviction.
Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; editing by Grant McCool