NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) — Leo Pellegrino, founding baritone saxophone player of the brass house group Too Many Zooz, has become the latest artist to sue Fortnite creator Epic Games over in-game dance moves.
According to a statement from Pellegrino’s attorney, David L. Hecht of Pierce Bainbridge, Epic failed to secure Pellegrino’s permission for the use of his likeness and “signature moves” and failed to credit or compensate him for their use.
Pellegrino’s point of contention is Fortnite’s “Phone It In” emote, a purchasable in-game ‘cosmetic’ that allows players to dance and play the saxophone to taunt their opponents.
Pellegrino, known professionally as Leo P, claims that his ‘trademark’ moves “have become inseparable from his persona and his life story.”
While dance moves are generally not eligible for a trademark as they are not used to identify the origin of a good, or service, such as with a logo or slogan, there are some exceptions.
If the dance move is has a recognized and identifiable name, it can be eligible for copyright not a trademark, with some qualifying factors that include the extent of choreography, originality, and that it must be fixed in a tangible object, such as a video or movie.
If you recognize the name Pierce Bainbridge, you might recognize it from previous ‘dance move’ lawsuits brought against Epic Games. The firm previously represented clients in five different suits, including Russell “backpack kid” Horning, rapper 2 Milly and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star Alfonso Ribeiro, who also claimed to have had their dance moves misappropriated by Epic Games.
However, all five suits were dismissed earlier this year in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, which changed the copyright landscape.
As a result of the ruling, plaintiffs could no longer file copyright infringement claims immediately on applying for registration with the copyright office, but are now required to wait until the Copyright office approves the filing, which could take some time, due to a backlog.
Here are Leo P and Too Many Zooz performing his ‘trademarked’ moves on a New York subway platform.