Yeesh! Close call, DreamWorks Animation!
The studio has just won a lawsuit from Terence Dunn, a self-described "writer-producer-teacher-philosopher" and the CEO of a company named Zen-Bear Ince., who pressed charges against them in June of 2010 for breach of implied contract on the Kung Fu Panda series when he asserted that the idea of a “spiritual kung-fu fighting panda bear” had been brought to them by him in November 2001 with the expectation that he'd be included in the project. Furthermore, he came up with the idea that bear was "adopted by five animal friends in the forest (a tiger, a leopard, a dragon, a snake and a crane), whose destiny is foretold by an old and wise sage, Turquoise Tortoise, and who comes of age and fulfills his destiny as a martial arts hero and spiritual avatar."
Despite all of this, the studio went on to pass on the pitch and then began work on a “substantially similar” Kung Fu Panda movie in 2002 with new screenwriters, Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris.
However, although the jury ruled that this agreement was, in fact, an implied-in-fact contract, but because the studio didn't use Dunn's ideas, he was awarded no damages!
Dunn's attorney, Theresa Macellaro says:
"We intend to appeal this decision. We feel quite confident in the appeal."
Between this and the other lawsuit against them by Jayme Gordon, DreamWorks has its hands full!
Regardless of whether or not they did, in fact, rip off the work's inspiration, we think they should probably pay extra careful attention to the source of their projects in the future!
Tags: copyright infringement, dreamworks animation, jayme gordon, kung fu panda, lawsuit, terence dunn