The Pinkertons just won’t stop harassing the Van der Linde gang.
Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, formerly known as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency before turning into the “world’s leading provider of corporate risk management solutions,” is taking legal action against Rockstar Games for its portrayal of the agency in Red Dead Redemption 2.
Celebrity news site The Blast, which has a penchant for digging up legal dirt, discovered a cease and desist letter sent from Pinkerton to Rockstar on December 13th, 2018. Pinkerton apparently took umbrage with the use of its imagery (such as the likeness of the Pinkerton Detective badge) and the fact that, well, Pinkertons in Red Dead 2 are a bunch of unlikable jerks.
Pinkerton stated in the letter that it was “willing to discuss a lump sum figure” as a settlement, but if Rockstar didn’t comply, that it would sue for trademark infringement.
Unfortunately for Pinkerton, Rockstar doesn’t take too kindly the the “S” word. The developer responded by filing its own lawsuit, claiming First Amendment protection and fair use in its representation of the Pinkertons circa 1899 American West. Rockstar states that Pinkerton characters only appear in less than 10 percent of the game’s main story missions, and that the Pinkertons have “long been a staple in works of historical fiction about the Wild West.”
“Creative works about the American West are permitted as a matter of law to include such real historical events, figures, and businesses,” Rockstar stated in its lawsuit. “Particularly where there is no likelihood that consumers will be confused about the source of the creative work, trademark owners should not be permitted to use trademark law to harass authors, chill speech, and diminish the historical tenor of works like Red Dead 2. Historical fiction—television, movies, plays, books, and games—would suffer greatly if trademark claims like [Pinkerton’s] could even possibly succeed.”
It’s a speech that would make Dutch proud.