Epic Games Sued By Company That Manages 'Coral Castle' In Florida Over New Fortnite Map

from the the-lawyers-in-the-coral-castle dept

Of all the trademark insanity we cover here, there are still little nuggets of niche gold when it comes to the truly insane trademark disputes. There are plenty of these categories, but one of my personal favorites is when real life brands get their knickers twisted over totally unrelated items in fiction. If you cannot conceptualize what I'm talking about, see the lawsuit brought by a software company that creates something called Clean Slate against Warner Bros. because...The Dark Knight Rises had a piece of software in it that was referred to as "clean slate."

Which brings us, as most stories about insanity do, to Florida. Epic Games released a new map for its hit game Fortnite recently, entitled Coral Castle. The map includes motifs of water and structures made from coral. CCI, based out of Florida, holds trademarks for a real life landmark called Coral Castle. There too, you can catch real life motifs of water mixed with structures made to look like coral. It is not, however, a video game setting. It is real life. And, yet, CCI has decided to sue Epic Games over the name of its map.

CCI, a Florida corporation, owns two trademarks related to Coral Castle, which is “a limestone structure created by an eccentric Latvian-American named Edward Leedskalnin.” According to the filing, Coral Castle, “often referred to as ‘Florida’s Stonehenge’ … comprises numerous megalithic stones, mostly limestone formed from coral, each weighing several tons.” The two trademarks cover “[o]n-line retail services” like Coral Castle replicas, collectible spoons, thimbles, t-shirts, and CCI’s logo, according to the complaint.

So, merch for the landmark, got it. What that has to do with a video game map is quite literally anyone's guess, but CCI seems to think that between the name of the map and what the filing itself refers to as thematic elements, this is somehow both trademark infringement and going to cause confusion in some kind of manner.

The virtual Coral Castle, CCI contended, “shares common themes with the real Coral Castle,” like castle structures and partial walls, stone objects, and nautical motifs. The complaint avers that both the real and virtual Coral Castle “evoke the feeling of a centuries old mysterious place.”

CCI argued that Epic has caused it harm by “utilizing the vast goodwill associated with the [t]rademarks” to promote Fortnite and the sale of in-game purchases without CCI’s consent. Too, Epic has purportedly “used reproductions, counterfeits, copies and/or colorable imitations of the Trademarks in commerce or in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution and/or advertising of Defendant’s goods and services, and such use is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, and/or to deceive.”

All of which is monumentally silly. Whatever fame Coral Castle might have regionally, it feels quite unlikely that the general populace is going to even know that the landmark exists, never mind somehow connect it to Fortnite's new map. In the absolute worst case scenario, perhaps some gamers might think, true or not, that the map is in some way inspired by the Florida spot. But some sort of confusion in commerce? Where? How?

Add to all of this that the map isn't a likeness of the real life landmark what are we even debating this for? Epic made its map different. As in distinct. As in not really trying to fool the public into thinking there was any association here.

What CCI could have done, however, would have been to have some fun with this and use it to draw attention to its real life landmark. It went legal instead, foregoing all of the potential good publicity it could have generated.

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Filed Under: coral castle, fortnite, games, maps, trademark
Companies: cci, epic


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  • identicon
    Coral Castle, 21 Aug 2020 @ 5:32am

    Clean slate

    Weren't clean slates those tablets with rounded corners which school children used in the 1800's and that Apple copied in their phone designs and decided to sue someone else over because they also used the prior art of the 1800's?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 21 Aug 2020 @ 5:57am

    "Coral Castle"

    Isn't that descriptive to the point in which it cannot qualify for trademark? Technically, any coral reef seems to qualify as a castle for it's inhabitants.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 8:13am

    These two ARE easy to confuse. Both are boring pieces of crap I wouldn't waste my time visiting..........

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 11:09am

    something something fsck you pay me...

    So many imaginary property cases that all boil down to, i suffered no real harm, but I can imagine harm, make them pay me lots of money please & thank you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Actual lawyer who actually takes cases, 21 Aug 2020 @ 7:16pm

    OF COURSE it causes confusion in commerce. People may forgo going to the ACTUAL Coral Castle (you know, the IRL one) thinking they can visit it by playing a stupid video game (by the way, when you are going to tackle predatory Free to play model that literally can't be done right because servers need upkeep money and therefore it preys on people with poor financial understanding of economics, not to mention that video games cause violence - I'm sure that with both police members and rioters you will find that most people have played a video game in their life? Thought so, coward).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pedro Menendez, 22 Aug 2020 @ 11:40am

    Trademark Law

    "Coral Castle" not a venerable protected trademark? I suggest that you and your legal counsel educate yourselves in basic Trademark Law. Unfortunately, ignorance is often not bliss.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2020 @ 1:48pm

      Re: Trademark Law

      Or maybe you should do that, or even, you know, make a counterclaim (or even an actual argument) against something which was actually said.

      These two businesses have zero overlap. The trademarked name, as generic as it is, applies to the things with which CCI engages in commerce (and for which the mark was applied). The mark doesn't cover anything outside of that... like a stupid game map.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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