The Florida-based Coral Castle Museum, said to be built by a lovesick man in the early 20th century, is suing Fortnite maker Epic Games over the game’s recent addition of a new Coral Castle location, which the museum’s owners claim infringes on their trademark.
Located just south of Miami, the Coral Castle Museum is a large garden full of sculpted rock formations that looks somewhere between an ancient archeological dig site and a modern day miniature golf course. Now it’s suing Epic Games over an aquatic-themed rock formation of the same name that was added to Fortnite earlier this month as part of the season’s Aquaman theme. As first reported by Polygon, the museum’s owners want the name, which it has trademarked, removed from Fortnite, and for Epic Games to pay it some money for allegedly attempting to profit off of the Coral Castle brand.
“Both include nautical/beach motifs, castle structures, partial castle walls, and stone objects,” part of the lawsuit reads. “Both also evoke the feeling of a centuries old mysterious place.“ The museum also points out in its lawsuit that since the new Fortnite location has connections to Aquaman, Epic Games could have just called it Atlantis, but instead decided on Coral Castle. This isn’t the first time the company’s been accused of profiting off other people’s creations, and it also comes right on the heels of Epic Games’ own lawsuit against Apple for being a monopoly.
Here are some side-by-side comparisons of the two Coral Castles:
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I am not an intellectual property lawyer, and while I do love the thought experiment of trying to compare just how “mysterious” and “centuries old” the two locations look, I have more questions about the real-life Coral Castle Museum. Born and raised in the greater Philadelphia metro area, the entirety of Florida remains a “mysterious place” to me, and so I’d never heard of this tourist attraction until now.
According to the museum’s website, the coral garden was built in 1939 by Latvian immigrant Edward Leedskalnin “with no outside assistance or large machinery.” Why? Apparently because “one true love” Agnes Scuffs cancelled their wedding, so, feeling “heartbroken and deeply saddened,” Leedskalnin decided to create a testimony to his unrequited love in the form of an over 1,000 ton carved rock formation.
It’s now a museum where visitors can pay a few bucks to tour a ghostly monument to one man’s perhaps unhealthy inability to simply “let it go.” If Fortnite’s Coral Castle really is inspired by the museum, it adds a whole new layer of bizarre lore to the battle royale pit stop. And even if it’s not, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get in a coral-themed shootout again without being haunted by Leedskalnin’s tale.
Epic Games declined to comment on the lawsuit.