joshua-hoehne-k8OicEBr-3g-unsplashI've written previously about the relatively recent problem of video games reproducing real-life products and places and the potential for trademark infringement, at least in the minds of those companies who find their products in games that seek to replicate facsimile of the world as we know it. Not every game seeks to do that, however; in fact, most games use the technology available to create something new entirely, often recognizable as something that can only exist in the digital sphere. That doesn't seem to mean that trademark disputes won't port into this new realm, apparently.

Epic Games, the creator of the wildly popular game Fortnite, is being sued over a new map in the game by a Florida entity claiming trademark infringement. The map in question, Coral Castle, shares a name with a Florida landmark, and both have structures created to look as though they were crafted by coral, as the name suggests. The company that owns the Coral Castle trademarks, CCI, claims that Forntite is misusing the brand and goodwill the landmark has built, and is causing confusion with consumers.

All that would be grounds for a trademark case, but CCI's case would seem to have a few holes in it, to say the least. While there is similarity in the use of coral in the construction, the structures themselves, as well as the layout of these structures, don't bear any resemblance to one another. Perhaps most importantly, the Fortnite map is just that: a map in a video game, not real in any actual sense and not a reproduction of the Coral Castle property in Florida. CCI is clearly right in pointing out the shared name, but beyond that they fail to make a case for any sort of brand confusion that would create the basis for infringement; if anything, CCI's property would stand to benefit with an association with a massively popular game, not the other way around.

CCI might have had a better case if the map was a reproduction of the property that fell outside of fair use, but that's not the case here; instead, they have taken issue with the use of the name, without seemingly much regard as to whether their case had much merit on actual legal grounds. As we've seen in other cases, names can be shared so long as there isn't confusion created, and it's not like people can choose to visit the Fornite locale as opposed to the Miami-Dade County version. Maybe CCI will find a court more charitably inclined towards their claims, but short of that, it's hard to see how the case makes much headway.