You can buy Fortnite merchandise at Target. Kohl’s. Hot Topic. Weirdly enough, Abercrombie & Fitch. Or, you can buy it from one of the many online stores selling unofficial Fortnite goods — at least until developer Epic Games shuts them down.
Epic filed a lawsuit in an Illinois court against a group of “unincorporated associations” that are allegedly creating online storefronts to sell unlicensed and counterfeit Fortnite merchandise. The bootleg storefronts are designed to look authentic, like they’re selling merch from Epic, according to the lawsuit. Specifically, Epic said the counterfeiters from China are “deceiv[ing] unknowing consumers by using the Fortnite trademarks” without proper authorization — thus, infringing on Epic’s Fortnite trademark.
Epic wants the court to forbid the counterfeiters from creating and selling stuff using the Fortnite trademark. It’s also asking the court to order online marketplaces, like Amazon, to shut down services for the defendants and for domain name registries to transfer ownership to Epic. The developer also wants the court to order social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to get rid of the alleged counterfeiters.
Oh, yes, and it is also looking for $2 million in statutory damages “for each and every use of the Fortnite trademark.”
The tricky part is that the counterfeit sellers “often go to great lengths to conceal their identities,” according to the lawsuit. They use fake names and addresses to “operate their massive network” of online stores in an effort “to avoid being shut down.” Once a lawsuit is filed, counterfeiters register new domains and move hosting websites, Epic’s lawyer said — so Epic is looking for a preliminary injunction ahead of a formal order.
In April, Epic filed a similar lawsuit against a lengthy list of defendants. Epic settled or dismissed with many of the defendants. In July, a judge ruled in favor of Epic with a remaining defendant. Epic has not responded to Polygon’s request for comment.
It’s been a busy week for Epic’s lawyers: On Oct. 25, the developer filed a lawsuit against a Fortnite user experience tester who reportedly leaked details ahead of the new season.