When the Carlton dance was refused copyright approval back in February, I thought we might finally be free of the Fortnite emote lawsuits. And yet here I am, writing about yet another case against Epic Games.
Instead of copyright claims, however, this one’s a little different – with the focus this time being on misappropriation of identity.
Leo Pellegrino, who’s the saxophonist of brass house group Too Many Zooz, is known for his zany dance moves while performing. You can take a look at these here:
Seem familiar? Over in the land of Fortnite, the popular phone it in emote certainly bears a lot of similarities – so much so, in fact, that Pellegrino’s lawsuit is accusing Epic of “outrageous and inexcusable conduct” by replicating his likeness without permission.
According to The Verge, the filing claims Pellegrino’s “duck footed” style is a result of his “externally rotatable feet”, and that Epic is unfairly profiting from Pellegrino’s “strenuous work and hard-earned fame”.
“There is no other saxophonist who moves like Leo P. and no doubt that Epic sought to exploit his likeness and signature movement for profit in Fortnite,” said lead counsel David L. Hecht of law firm Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP.
“While Fortnite has very recently started to work with talent like Marshmello and Weezer, implicitly acknowledging the importance of licensing intellectual property it wishes to use, it has continued to ignore the rights of a bevy of performers it blatantly copied, including Leo P.”
It’s a different type of claim, but Pellegrino is represented by the same firm that is currently fighting Epic on a range of other emote lawsuits, including Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton), Russell Horning (backpack kid), Orange Shirt Kid and rapper Terrence Ferguson (2 Milly).
As a result of the copyright ruling back in February, Pierce Bainbridge has had five of its lawsuits put on hold – but clearly it’s hoping to have some success with this method. It may run into other difficulties with this suit – particularly given the emote in question also bears resemblance to Eurovision legend Epic Sax Guy – although I’m sure that won’t stop another 10 copycat lawsuits popping up in the meantime.