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Call it judicial jujitsu in a case over a martial arts bear. A plaintiff who claims DreamWorks and Paramount infringed his copyrights in their Kung Fu Panda movies has asked the court to sanction the defendants for improper investigation tactics, but his opponents want the case dropped because he skipped a deposition. Judge Joseph Tauro of the District of Massachusetts has coped with a flurry of motions in Gordon v. DreamWorks Animation SKG in the past several days. Both sides rushed to court on Nov. 15 with their memos supporting their motions after two separate Nov. 14 orders by Tauro. One order allowed plaintiff Jayme Gordon to file a memorandum supporting his motion for sanctions and a protective order, and the other allowed the defendants to file a memo supporting their dismissal motion. A motions hearing is scheduled for Nov. 17. Gordon sued DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., which owns the copyright for Kung Fu Panda and Kung Fu Panda 2, and distributor Paramount Pictures Corp. in February. Gordon claimed the defendants infringed his Kung Fu Panda Power Works collection, which he registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2000. The defendants’ May answer states that DreamWorks returned an unsolicited package Gordon sent to DreamWorks in October 1999 but did not copy it, in accordance with the company’s policy on unsolicited material. An emergency motion for protective order and sanctions that Gordon filed on Oct. 18 set the stage for the current motions rush. The next day, the defendants filed a dismissal motion because Gordon didn’t show up at a deposition. Also on Oct. 19, Tauro barred the defendants from deposing Gordon until he held a hearing about Gordon’s sanctions motion. In his original motion for protective order and sanctions, Gordon asked the court to order the defendants to stop their “harassing surveillance and/or interrogations” of Gordon, his wife, son, mother, nephew, neighbors and friends. Gordon also asked the court to order the defendants to reveal the investigators’ identities and to produce copies of reports, notes and photographs. Gordon claimed that the defendants violated Massachusetts’ witness intimidation law through their “wanton disregard of the rules of the Court and flagrant attempt to intimidate Mr. Gordon and his family.” Specifically, he claimed that he approached one of the investigators watching him in October because he was concerned the investigator would harm his 16-year-old son, who was home alone. Gordon claimed that he, his wife, son, mother and nephew experienced “substantial emotional distress” because of the investigation. The movie studios’ Nov. 15 reply brief supporting their dismissal motion states that Gordon “provides absolutely no good cause supporting the deliberate decision to unilaterally cancel his long-scheduled deposition” and that Gordon “appeared to be merely a scam artist.” The movie studios’ memo also states that Gordon’s “failure to provide any evidence of ‘harassment’ speaks volumes about the true intention of his refusal to appear and testify, which was clearly a maneuver designed by Plaintiff’s counsel to delay his deposition, to prejudice the Defendants and their counsel with this Court and to obtain protected work product.” The defendants also wrote that Gordon’s “prior employers and associates were lawfully contacted and interviewed, and Plaintiff was observed but was never contacted.” “No decision has ever been issued that would preclude the investigation that was conducted in this case — no relatives of the Plaintiff were contacted, no harassment or intimidation whatsoever took place, and no one was lied to or deceived into making any false statements,” stated the defendants’ memo. “The fact that third parties were spoken to and provided truthful information is not, and cannot be, a violation of any rule or law.” Gordon’s reply memo takes issue with the defendants’ investigators’ tactics, including knocking on the doors of tenants who lived in Gordon’s locked apartment building and his mother’s locked apartment building and questioning people who attend the same gym as Gordon, as well as his friends and people who haven’t seen him for decades “under false pretenses.” Gordon’s lawyers at Fish & Richardson did not respond to requests for comment. Mark Fischer, a Boston partner at Philadelphia’s Duane Morris who also represents Gordon, referred questions to Fish & Richardson. Foley Hoag of Boston, which did not respond to requests for comment, and Loeb & Loeb represented the defendants. Loeb & Loeb New York partner Jonathan Zavin declined to comment. Sheri Qualters can be contacted at [email protected].

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