Epic Games, the creator of the incredibly popular game Fortnite, has had a former news anchor, Matthew Geiler, threaten to sue it and send a cease and desist over a dancing emote that was part of the Fortnitemares Halloween event. Geiler created a character called "Dancing Pumpkin Man" during his time on-air that shows him dancing in front of a generic graveyard scene in a black unitard wearing a pumpkin mask.
Geiler says in the cease and desist letter that the company is using his character's likeness without permission and threatened to sue Epic Games. However, Epic has asked a New York Federal Judge to declare that the dancing pumpkin feature "Pump It Up" doesn't infringe on the copyright or trademark rights of the "Dancing Pumpkin Man" character.
Epic says that the "Pump it Up" emote dances to a Halloween-themed song that was developed in-house while the character wears a Jack-o'-lantern face designed by Epic that is a yellow and orange pumpkin with green flames coming from the eyes, nose, and mouth. Epic's legal team argues that its emote has no similarity to the video Geiler made. The team also contends that even if there were similarities, Geiler's creation lacks the specificity required to gain copyright protection.
Epic also argues that the character isn't used to identify the source or origin of a product or service and therefore has no trademark rights. To make things look more like a money grab by Geiler, Epic also notes that the man licensed the choreography to Epic for $10,000 in August. Epic is asking the court to enter a declaratory judgment of non-infringement and award attorney's fees and costs. Past lawsuits over dance moves against Epic were all dropped. The last time we talked about Fortnite was when Epic was sued in October for allegedly making he game too addicting and fun.