In brief: If you’ve been enjoying the excellent Red Dead Redemption 2, you’ll know that two of the main antagonists, Andrew Milton and Edgar Ross, are part of the Pinkerton detective agency. But it seems the real-world version of the agency has taken exception to its name appearing in the game, and Rockstar is now locked in a legal battle over the issue.
Court documents obtained by The Blast show that Pinkerton, which is now a subsidiary of Swedish security firm Securitas AB and called Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, sent a cease-and-desist notice to Rockstar and Take-Two last month.
While the firm acknowledged Rockstar’s “clear affection” for Pinkerton, it claims the use of the name might lead people to believe the agency was involved in the game’s creation, even though no permission was given. Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations is asking for a single lump sum or a share of Red Dead 2’s royalties.
Take-Two has responded to the letter with a lawsuit that claims the use of the Pinkerton name is protected under the First Amendment, and that it’s part of the game’s historical setting.
"Put simply, [Pinkerton] cannot use trademark law to own the past and prevent creators from including historical references to Pinkerton agents in depictions of the American West," Take-Two said.
The game company adds that the Pinkertons have appeared in media for years, including the 1980 movie The Long Riders, TV show Deadwood, and the Elton John song "Ballad of a Well-Known Gun." It’s not even the first time the name has been used in a game; the protagonist in BioShock Infinite, Booker DeWitt, is a former Pinkerton agent.
Take-Two also points out that the original Pinkerton name and badge is used in Red Dead Redemption 2, not the current ones, and that the Pinkertons only appear in 10 of the game's 106 missions.
Back in 1996, Pinkerton tried and failed to sue rock band Weezer over the band’s second album, titled ‘Pinkerton.’
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