It was a star-studded night on “Saturday Night Live.” Tom Hanks and Dwayne Johnson appeared, as did Scarlett Johansson and Alec Baldwin. Singer Katy Perry was there, too, backed by an unknown 15-year-old wearing a backpack and doing his hypnotic, signature Floss dance.
Now known as “Backpack Kid,” Russell Horning is interested in doing more than just entertaining millions – he’s also out to protect what he considers his intellectual property. Horning recently filed a trademark and copyright infringement lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Epic Games Inc., makers of the Fortnite Battle Royale video game.
Horning has joined actor Alfonso Ribeiro and rapper 2 Milly in pursuing infringement claims against the company.
People who play the wildly popular Fortnite can purchase the Floss dance for their avatars. According to Bloomberg Law, Fortnite gamers asked Epic on forums to make the Floss available, but the company never asked the Backpack Kid permission to use his signature moves in the game, he states in documents filed in court.
Bloomberg estimates that Fortnite will generate $2 billion for North Carolina-based Epic by the end of the year. Horning, Ribeiro and 2 Milly say Epic has used their intellectual property without permission or compensation to make money off of gamers. They insist that doing so infringes their California statutory right of publicity, Bloomberg reported.
The three plaintiffs have filed nearly identical suits, though their complaints remain separate.
San Diego residents and businesses facing an IP dispute should contact an attorney experienced in resolving complex disagreements over patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets in litigation and negotiations.