Home Gaming Epic Games is once again being sued for a dance emote and they’re not taking it lying down

Epic Games is once again being sued for a dance emote and they’re not taking it lying down

2 min read

The lawsuit specifically covers the use of the dance and a certain Jack O’ Lantern appearance, despite Epic having already bought the rights to the dance.


Epic Games is no stranger to lawsuits and the strange, very murky nature of intellectual property as it concerns famous dance routines. Just a few months ago Epic was being sued by both Russell “Backpack Kid” Horning and Alfonso Ribeiro for using their respective dances “The Floss” and “The Carlton” without first obtaining the rights. I’m not about to sit here and pretend I understand enough about intellectual property and copyright infringement laws to make any judgements on either of these situations, but it seems that that Epic hasn’t been able to move away from their history of dance-related lawsuits as Matthew Geiler has filed another lawsuit against Epic Games.

Geiler, who you’ll recognise as being the dancing Jack O’Lantern in the age-old meme “Pumpkin Dance” video, reportedly sold Epic the rights to use his dance for $10, 000, but alleges that Epic Games using his likeness, paired with the dance emote, constitutes copyright infringement. Following the Fortnitemares Halloween Event, players could don the skin of a Jack O’Lantern and perform the Pumpkin Dance, the idea of which Epic Games lawyer Dale Cendali argues is within the public domain. Cendali insists that the act of wearing a Jack O’Lantern mask and dancing did not originate with Geiler and continues to say that people had been doing it for years before his video went viral. Epic Games has since filed an official complaint against Geiler, providing evidence that Geiler had licensed the dance to the company and stating that the emote in no way infringes on any copyright.

Epic Games is asking courts to ignore Geiler’s case, essentially meaning the lawsuit could be killed before it even jumps out the Battle Bus.

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While the previous dance-emote related lawsuits were eventually dropped by both plaintiffs, it’s unclear what Geiler plans on doing from here on out. Epic Games is seeking a judgement of non-infringement and legal costs, while Geiler has yet to comment on the lawsuit. You can read the entire filing here.

Last Updated: December 10, 2019


  1. Son of Banana Jim

    December 10, 2019 at 17:47

    You’d think given that Epic sells some of these dance emotes in their store, they would have had the forethought to rope in the originators of the various dances and give them a portion of the profits. Epic would look like saints, and the dancers would promote the snot out of it.

    Of course, given that this is Epic the scummiest company since EA, they’re obviously out there to nickel and dime everyone. Sadly, the law is on their side, but man…oh… man.. do they deserve a torpedo or two.


    • Yozzie

      December 10, 2019 at 18:35

      The devil wears Prada comes to mind when I see Epic’s name.


    • SagatatiaRZA

      December 11, 2019 at 04:22

      Well to be fair in this case they bought the rights to the dance before hand.


      • Pariah

        December 11, 2019 at 07:17

        Exactly. They bought the rights. This just screams of a dude taking a chance.


    • Kromas

      December 11, 2019 at 07:35

      Every wow dance as well as guild wars and STO is being used without permission.

      Shit isn’t exclusive to Epic.


    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      December 11, 2019 at 09:58

      As much as I can’t stand Epic, I’m on their side here. You don’t get to claim copyright for a few seconds for something that’s just a tiny range of human motion, that’s ludicrous.

      These silly lawsuits only come about for one reason – settling to a few dollars just to get them to go away.


  2. CrAiGiSh

    December 11, 2019 at 08:18

    Imagine Michael Jackson suing anyone who does/did the moonwalk …


    • CrasH

      December 11, 2019 at 09:12

      Nope… imagine Micheal Jackson Suing anyone who sells a piece of merchandise that does the moon walk. It’s not the dancing part, it is the sale part. One company is profiting of another’s work.

      It might be a slippery slope if we believe that dancing can be licensed, but if you break it down to the basic of why these dances are even making money… because they are exploiting the fact they are famous and relevant. not like they selling the foxtrot? and if they were would they make any money… Blizzard had the Mr.T Mohawk and prerry sure you cant license a hairstyle but paid him…


      • HvR

        December 11, 2019 at 12:32

        Again they actually paid the guy for the dance moves, he is essentially suing them for the use of a jack’o lantern mask.

        And the other lawsuits were stupid since neither person were the originators just the people who made it famous and they soon realized it that they in turn could also be sued if they succeeded in their cases.


        • CrasH

          December 11, 2019 at 16:45

          So… before Micheal Jackson made it famous the moves was called the “BackSlide” and was said he saw kids doing it and decided to improve on it…
          So basically what every other person sueing in some way to be claiming.

          Also i was referring to your comment specifically not the article, I agree he was paid for a dance move he did not create but made famous and the gray area is the likeness… by your own example, what is royalties to copy the moonwalk and having people can perform it in a game vs having a Micheal Jackson look a like that you can play with….

          I agree they guy is taking a chance… but i believe they should have paid Alfonso Lincoln Ribeiro for the carton as its based of many dances he put together.


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