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The real Coral Castle in Florida sues Epic over the fake Coral Castle in Fortnite

(Image credit: Epic Games)
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Changes in Fortnite (opens in new tab) season 3 saw the whirlpool in the northwest corner of the map drained away to reveal Chez Aquaman, except instead of being called Atlantis as you might expect, it's called Coral Castle (opens in new tab). The trouble, as Polygon (opens in new tab) points out, is that Coral Castle (opens in new tab) already exists: It's a sculpture garden built single-handedly, and in secret, by Latvian immigrant Edward Leedskalnin over a period of 1923-1951. 

Weird bit of trivia: Leedskalnin's story inspired Billy Idol's 1987 hit Sweet Sixteen, and the music video was recorded there. I kid you not (opens in new tab).

It's also been used in a handful of feature films, including The Wild Women of Wongo (opens in new tab) and Nude on the Moon (opens in new tab).

Back to the matter at hand: The lawsuit states that the "virtual Coral Castle" in Fortnite "shares common themes with the real Coral Castle," including "nautical/beach motifs, castle structures, partial castle walls, and stone objects. Both also evoke the feeling of a centuries-old mysterious place." It also notes that while the current Fortnite season is centered on DC's Aquaman film, Epic did not call the location Atlantis but opted to call it Coral Castle instead, "in clear and willful violation of Plaintiff's rights in the Trademarks."

"EGI [Epic Games Inc.] is utilizing the vast goodwill associated with the Trademarks to promote the nautical theme of Chapter 2 Season 3 of Fortnite: Battle Royale, and to promote sales of V-Bucks and Battle Passes, without the consent or approval of CCI [Coral Castle Inc.], and without compensation to CCI," the lawsuit states.

That seems like a stretch to me—I rather strongly suspect that Fortnite is not leaning too heavily on a roadside tourist attraction in Florida for its success. There are arguably some physical similarities between them, though. 

(Image credit: Epic Games)

CCI's suit claims trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition, and a couple counts of "violation of Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act." It's seeking an injunction against Epic's use of the name and an order to turn over all materials bearing it, plus monetary damages including profits derived from sales related to the trademark and legal fees.

An Epic representative declined to comment on the case.

Andy Chalk
Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.