Now that DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda is an international hit with a forthcoming sequel, everyone suddenly wants some credit for coming up with the wildly-imaginative idea of merging an Asian mammal with Asian martial arts.
Late last year, a self-proclaimed "writer-producer-teacher-philosopher" won a small legal battle against the animation studio, allowing him to continue pursuing action in a suit that claims Kung Fu Panda is a direct result of a 2001 pitch he made for a "spiritual kung-fu fighting panda bear" named Zen-Bear. A trial on the whole Zen-Bear v. Kung Fu Panda matter is meant to take place this year, but already another creative force has emerged claiming to have invented Jack Black's spirit animal.
Self-proclaimed "artist" Jayme Gordon (artwork above) says DreamWorks Animation stole not only his characters but a portion of the title of his "Kung Fu Panda Power," which he filed a copyright for in 2000. His suit, too, claims he pitched the concept--to Disney in the late '80s or early '90s. In his sordid tale, then-Disney chair Michael Eisner and president Frank Wells heard his proposal and likely passed his idea on to Jeffrey Katzenberg, who then co-founded Dreamworks and made Gordon's drawings look less like a creepy, gay-themed furry comic with 2008's Kung Fu Panda.
DreamWorks has declined to comment on the lawsuit, and still no word from Ninja Turtle ally Panda Khan.