Are dance moves protected by a patent or trademark in the United States?
Alfonso Ribeiro, most notably a star in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, is suing the parent company to the popular video game, Fortnite, for using his legendary and signature "Carlton" dance move without permission.
Ribeiro's character Carlton Banks coined the now famous dance move, which first appears in Season 2 of the popular sitcom during the "Christmas Show" episode.
When it comes to the game Fortnite, the dance move in question can be activated by players when on the battlefield under the "Fresh" then "Emote" category, which gives you the opportunity to "express yourself on the battlefield."
“Fresh Prince” star Alfonso Ribeiro is suing the makers of two popular video games – Fortnite and NBA2K – because he claims the games used his signature “Carlton” dance moves without his permission. pic.twitter.com/U0oAMXKvBD— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 18, 2018
While you might not be able to file for a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on an actual dance move, you can protect the name of the dance with similar actions trademarked being "Tebowing" or "Kaepernicking."
In the docs, obtained by TMZ, Alfonso says that Fortnite released a new dance that its characters can perform called the "Fresh emote," which came out on Jan 2, 2018 ... and it's a carbon copy of what he claims he came up with on the '90s sitcom.
He also claims he's in the middle of copyrighting the Carlton dance.
The lawsuit is almost identical to the one filed by 2 Milly earlier this month for jacking his "Milly Rock" dance.
Alfonso's attorney, David Hecht of Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP, tells us, "It is widely recognized that Mr. Ribeiro’s likeness and intellectual property have been misappropriated by Epic Games in the most popular video game currently in the world, Fortnite."
He continues, "Epic has earned record profits off of downloadable content in the game, including emotes like “Fresh.” Yet Epic has failed to compensate or even ask permission from Mr. Ribeiro for the use of his likeness and iconic intellectual property."
Townhall has reached out to Epic Games for comment. This story will be updated if one is received.