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First off today, Rory O’Neill at World Intellectual Property Review reports that Epic Games, the creators of the game Fortnite, have filed a proactive lawsuit against comedian Matt Geiler, who was attempting to assert copyright and trademark claims in an emote that Epic introduced before Halloween.
Back in 2006, Geiler was working for the Omaha television station KXVO and, in a bid to fill some dead air, donned a pumpkin head costume and danced to the Ghostbusters theme. This quickly became a viral sensation online and remains as such today. In Fortnite, gamers can buy emotes, which are small dances that they can do while playing. Shortly before Halloween, Epic introduced an emote based upon Geiler’s character and dance.
Geiler has complained that the emote is a copyright and trademark violation but has not filed a lawsuit. Epic has decided to file proactively, asking for a judge to declare the use to be lawful. According to Epic, they have a license to use the character and, even if the license doesn’t cover their use, they argue that there is nothing protectable about a pumpkin head character, noting many similar characters throughout history.
Next up today, David McAfree at Bloomberg Law reports that musician Jason Mraz has filed a lawsuit against MillerCoors LLC alleging that the company misappropriated his image and his song I’m Yours in an advertisement for Coors Light beer.
According to the lawsuit, MillerCoors used 13 seconds of Mraz’s performance of the song at the BeachLife Festival. He claims that they added in a line saying it was “Presented by Coors Light” and also prominently displayed a Coors Light can.
Upset that his “family-friendly” song was being used to sell alcohol without his permission, Mraz has filed a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement, trademark violations and violations of the right to publicity among others. He is seeking the profits from the use of his work and likeness as well as an injunction barring further use.
Finally today, Tyler Aquilina at Entertainment Weekly reports that the estate for Marvin Gaye isn’t quite done with the Blurred Lines lawsuit as they are now filing a motion that alleges Pharrell Williams committed perjury when he testified in the case.
The case pitted the family of musician Marvin Gaye against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, the creators of the song Blurred Lines. The estate claimed it was an infringement of the Gaye hit Got to Give it Up and eventually won a jury verdict and an appeal in their favor.
However, now the estate is claiming that Williams committed perjury when he testified that he testified that he, “did not go in the studio with the intention of making anything feel like, or to sound like, Marvin Gaye.” However, in a recent interview with GQ, he stated that he “reverse engineered” the song and sought to create a new song that made you “feel the same way” as Gaye’s track. According to the estate, that shows that Williams knowingly lied under oath, committing perjury.