Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Fortnight sued by Alfonso Ribiero

Alfonso Ribiero, known for his signature "Carlton" dance performed by his character on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," filed suit against Epic Games, owner of the Fortnite video game. Epic featured Ribiero's distinct dance moves as an add-on dance players may purchase for their Fortnite characters.

Ribiero's lawsuit raised the question of whether he, in fact, has legal ownership of the "Carlton" dance. The U.S. Copyright Office has answered with a resounding "no" and even went as far as to poke fun at Ribiero. A supervisory registration specialist from the U.S. Copyright Office has reportedly claimed the "Carlton" dance is merely a simple dance routine anyone is capable of doing.

Attorneys for Epic Games have submitted a dismissal brief, arguing if anyone owns the "Carlton" dance, it would be NBC, the network that owns the episode of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" in which the dance was introduced. Since "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" sitcom ended in the 1990s, Ribiero has recently performed the signature dance during his stint on "Dancing With the Stars." Ribiero also claims he is asked by members of the general public to perform the dance spontaneously every time he leaves his home.

Copyright issues are not only limited to celebrities who work in the entertainment industry. Business owners may benefit from consulting a New Jersey attorney who has a proven record of success in intellectual property litigation. It is often very difficult to tell what material may be covered by copyright protection; therefore, it might be wise for people who wish to protect their intellectual property to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who remains aware of changes in IP law.

Source:Av News, "U.S. Copyright Office shades "the Carlton dance" while refusing Alfonso Ribiero's ownership claim," Randall Colburn, February 15, 2019

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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