In a bizarre twist on Epic’s usual lawsuit-based controversy, Epic Games has filed a preemptive lawsuit against Matt Geiler, the man behind the Pumpkin Dance meme, before Geiler has a chance to file one against Epic.
According to The Verge, Geiler reportedly sent a cease and desist letter to Epic after the company launched the Pump It Up emote in Fortnite.
The emote in question does bear a vague resemble Geiler’s gourd-based dance, with the player’s Fortnite avatar putting on a pumpkin mask and dancing, similar to how Geiler himself put on a pumpkin mask and danced. Geiler says that this resemblance is enough to infringe on his copyright.
You can watch Geiler’s original spooky dance for yourself below.
For comparison, you can watch Fortnite’s Pump It Up emote below (for an entire hour, courtesy of YouTuber PunchNshoot).
However, this case isn’t as open-and-shut as it seems. It turns out that Epic has reportedly previously struck a licensing deal with Geiler over the use of his pumpkin dance, which begs the question of if you’ve already agreed on a deal, why the cease and desist letter?
Epic’s preemptive complaint (which you can read in all its legal jargon-esque glory here) points out that Geiler’s dance “does not rise to the level of specificity needed, as a matter of law, to create a copyrightable character.”
The complaint also provides photo evidence of the Pump It Up emote, showing its obvious differences to Geiler’s dance. Epic also points out that Geiler has previously granted the company a license to the “character.”
This isn’t Epic’s first Fortnite-related lawsuit and it probably won’t be the last. It seems that each new emote introduced to the game comes with a wave of copyright issues and, while the Supreme Court has now required those seeking to sue Epic to register a copyright before suing, there’ll most likely still be plenty of lawsuits waiting to happen.