“Fortnite” Developer Sued for Trademark Infringement by Florida Tourist Attraction

Plaintiff Coral Castle, Inc. (CCI) brought a suit against Epic Games, Inc. (Epic) for violations of the Lanham Act and Florida law on August 14, claiming that the gaming company infringed on its trademarks by naming one of its fictional gaming locations “Coral Castle.” The name is also the title of a real Florida landmark owned and operated as a tourist attraction by CCI.

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.

CCI alleged that Epic, the creator of “Fortnite” which is “one of the most popular and best-selling video games of all time,” released a new virtual location for its “battle royale” game mode called “Coral Castle” on August 1. 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.”

CCI claimed that Epic’s virtual Coral Castle is likely to cause “blurring,” or confusion to the public as to the existence of an affiliation between Fortnite and CCI. The complaint asserts that CCI has suffered damage to its business, reputation, and goodwill, and has lost profits as a result of Epic’s release of the virtual Coral Castle location. Under federal trademark law and Florida’s business laws, CCI seeks a judgment of infringement, enjoinment from further use of its trademarks, and damages.

CCI is represented by Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP. Epic Games recently sued Apple and Google in unrelated cases also involving Fortnite.