Just before Halloween, Epic Games was threatened with a lawsuit by Matthew Geiler, better known to the internet as "Dancing Pumpkin Man." According to The Verge, Geiler's cease-and-desist came as a result of a Pump it Up emote that Epic sold for one day only during the Fortnitemares event. When purchased by players, the emote gives their character a flaming pumpkin head, and allows them to dance like Geiler in his now-infamous video. In response, the publisher filed a preemptive complaint against Geiler. Epic contends that Geiler has no grounds to stand on, since the character isn't trademarked and, more importantly, Geiler has a licensing agreement with Epic.
Epic's plan is to take Geiler to court unless he retracts his cease-and-desist. As part of Epic's complaint, the publisher contends that Geiler's Dancing Pumpkin Man is not actually an original creation, since Geiler did not create the mask, leotard or music associated with the video. According to Epic, Geiler was paid to use his likeness in the game. Geiler says no such deal was made, but in a Facebook post from Geiler posted on October 2nd, Geiler mentions the licensing agreement. In an interview with Mel Magazine, Geiler said the licensing deal "definitely got me some credibility for at least three months with my 10-year-old."
Geiler is the originator of the Dancing Pumpkin Man meme, which debuted as part of a news segment Geiler had created in his time as a newscaster in Omaha in 2006. In 2009, Buzzfeed discovered the footage and the video went viral. Now, Geiler has turned "Dancing Pumpkin Man" into a business, licensing the character out to several companies, including Epic. Without knowing exactly what the licensing agreement with Epic entails, it's hard to understand exactly what basis Geiler has for bringing a cease-and-desist against Epic in the first place.
Fortnite is just about the biggest thing in the world right now, and a big part of that is owed to the dancing and the memes associated with it. Epic Games has been involved in a number of lawsuits related to dance moves in the game, though none have yet been successful, as it must be proven that the dance moves have been trademarked.
Did you purchase the Pump it Up emote? What are your thoughts on the Geiler's complaint? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!