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A Fortnite Leo Pellegrino lawsuit may bring Epic Games back to court due to emotes in the popular battle royale game. It has been over a month since Epic Games managed to have a previous emote-related case against them dismissed, having filed to dismiss another as well. However, Pellegrino is choosing to sue Epic over misappropriation of his identity as opposed to the dance itself.
The filing relates to the “Phone It In” emote and describes Epic Games behavior as “outrageous and inexcusable.” Pellegrino’s alleges that his “trademark moves have become inseparable from his persona and his life story.” Therefore, Pellegrino argues, Epic Games have been able to profit from his “strenuous work and hard-earned fame.” The remarks make up part of eight different actions by listed by Pellegrino which he believes warrant the filing against Epic. The actions include unjust enrichment, misappropriation of publicity, invasions of privacy, and unauthorized use of likeness, to name a few.
The Fortnite Leo Pellegrino lawsuit filing also adds further detail regarding why Pellegrino’s moves make up his identity. According to the filing, Pellegrino has a “unique anatomy” which enabled the “duck-footed” style demonstrated in the “Phone It In” emote. “Because of his externally rotatable feet, he eventually developed his own unique dancing style and his signature and original movements … As he developed his performance persona, Pellegrino incorporated the Signature Move into his performances playing the saxophone.”
Lawsuits against Epic Games began to build steam when rapper 2 Milly sued the Fortnite creator over the “Swipe It” emote. The filings gained further attention when Fresh Prince of Bel Air star Alfonso Ribeiro also sued over the “Carlton Dance” referred to as “Fresh” in the game. However, Epic filed to dismiss 2 Milly’s lawsuit and Ribeiro’s case was dropped after his copyrighting of the move failed.
Away from the litigation (yet somewhat ironically related), Fortnite recently added the ability to copy dance moves within the game. The “Mimic” function allows players to mimic the dance move of any players nearby. The feature lets players gain access to emotes that may no longer be available through other means.