Fortnite Running Man Lawsuit Dismissed By Judge

by in Fortnite | Jun, 2nd 2020

Epic Games has won another lawsuit, this time regarding the Fortnite Running Man emote that was under fire by two players who wished to receive compensation for the company using the popular dance move that they helped to make famous on social media.

Fortnite Running Man Lawsuit Dismissed

A federal judge dismissed the Fortnite Running Man lawsuit late last week, ending this case for now. The US District Judge Paul Grimm made the ruling Friday in Maryland that rendered this case a win for the Fortnite developer Epic Games, despite the plaintiffs’ claim that their dance was copied.

The judge ruling was revealed via ESPN and noted that this lawsuit was formed by two former basketball players from the University of Maryland. Jared Nickens and Jaylen Brantley sued Epic Games in early 2019, claiming that the Running Man emote had been copied and used in Fortnite.

The direct complaint had to do with the footage of the two former University of Maryland basketball players that they posted on social media sites in 2016. The dance became famous, accumulating millions of views across multiple sites, according to the two players.

This led to them being able to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2016, making the dance even more viral than ever before. As such, it is no surprise that Epic Games wanted to use that same dance in Fortnite to give players more options for showing off their moves online in matches.

Original Lawsuit Details

The problem with this that the two former Maryland players had was that they claimed that Epic Games took the footage of them dancing to it online and at The Ellen Show, and digitally copied it for use in Fortnite. Even more so, this emote was then distributed through the item shop.

If players wanted to use the Fortnite Running Man emote in the game itself, they had to spend V-Bucks, which are rather hard to earn in the game besides spending real-world money on it. This does mean that Epic Games did directly make money off of the Running Man emote they helped create.

As such, this led to their lawsuit where they sought compensation for the damages against them under the Copyright Act. In total, they were seeking more than $5 million in damages in the lawsuit as compensation for the fact that they had their dance move allegedly copied by Epic Games.

But alas, this wasn’t to be as the federal judge dismissed the case and Epic Games is not required to provide that compensation. However, this hasn’t stopped the plaintiffs’ attorney Richard Jaklitsch from commenting on the nature of the Fortnite developer.

This Isn’t the First Lawsuit for Epic Games

Jaklitsch believes that it is very “un-American” for Epic Games to be doing something that would profit “off the backs” of the two basketball players. And even more than that, he believes that Epic Games should “step up and do the right thing,” acknowledging what they did with the dance.

It remains to be seen if Epic Games will do anything at all regarding this situation, be it compensating or even acknowledging the fact that they weren’t the ones to originally create the Fortnite Running Man dance emote. It hasn’t even commented on the matter yet.

ESPN reached out to Epic Games this week regarding the dismissed lawsuit and it declined to comment on the matter. But the thing about this situation is that Brantley and Nickens are far from the only people to claim that the Fortnite developer has stolen ideas from them for use in the game.

There have been many others in the past like the rapper 2 Milly and actor Alfonso Ribeiro, one of the main stars of the hit 1990’s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, both had the lawsuits that they filed against Epic Games for using their dance moves.

In the case of Ribeiro, he dropped his lawsuit against Epic Games last year. At this time, it does seem like the Fortnite developer is mostly successful in staking its right and claim to use these dance moves in the battle royale game, even if they are paid ones that players purchase.

How the Running Man Emote Was Originally Unlocked

The Running Man emote is one such example of this happening. It was originally released at the launch of Season 6 of Fortnite battle royale and was part of that particular season’s battle pass. There were only five emotes in the battle pass that season and it was one of the best ones available.

To unlock the Running Man emote, players had to reach tier 31 in the Season 6 battle pass, leading to many players back then earning this dance move. It is one of the looping dances that lets the player continuously use this dance move as long as they want if they’d like.

The rare emote is, unfortunately, no longer available in the game for those to unlock it who weren’t around during Season 6. If you missed out on playing during that season or didn’t purchase the paid battle pass in Season 6, then you are, unfortunately, not able to get it anymore.

Such is the case with many emotes and skins in the game that is only meant to be released once for a limited time. However, that all changed recently when one of the first paid skins ever released for Fortnite was brought back: Fortnite Recon Expert skin.

That was one of the first ones ever released in the game and players could pick it up again in the item shop for the first time since 2017. It is much older than the Running Man emote, so there is a chance that it could appear in the item shop in the future. The only problem with that is the fact that it is a battle pass-exclusive emote and not one that was sold in the item shop.


Leave a Reply