Take-Two Dismisses Its Lawsuit Against Pinkerton Agency As The Latter Runs From Its Own Cease And Desist

from the history-wins dept

At the very start of the year, we discussed a lawsuit filed by Take-Two Interactive against the Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations agency over content within the hit game Red Dead Redemption 2. Take-Two filed the suit seeking a declaratory judgement that its depiction of Pinkerton agents within the game was fair use, as Pinkerton had fired off a cease and desist notice to the game developer declaring that the game was violating its trademark rights and demanded either a lump sum payment or royalties as a result. Pinkerton, which most gamers will not know is a real-life union-busting, outlaw-getting agency that has existed since the west was still wild, probably thought Take-Two would pay it to go away. After all, the arguments for fair use and the First Amendment are quite clear when a work of fiction portrays a parody-take on an historically accurate and quite infamous agency of the wild west.

We said at the time that it was hard to see how a ruling by the court in favor of Pinkerton would do anything other than force artists to license history, which is about as clearly antithetical to First Amendment law as could be imagined. It seems that Pinkerton's lawyers agreed, as Take-Two announced it has dropped its suit as Pinkerton has agreed to withdraw its demands.

Take-Two and its subsidiary Rockstar filed the suit in January, striking back at a cease-and-desist notice from Pinkerton, which argued Red Dead Redemption 2 had infringed on its trademark. The publisher wanted a court to rule that its use of the Pinkerton name — as part of a game that emphasizes historical accuracy — was fair use. But GameDaily.biz notes that the suit was dropped today, apparently ending the dispute.

“Take-Two can confirm that the present-day Pinkerton Consulting and Investigation company has withdrawn its claims against Red Dead Redemption 2, and Take-Two will not continue legal action against Pinkerton. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a work of fiction set in the late 1800s that references historical entities active during that time,” a spokesperson for Take-Two told The Verge.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of all of this is that it took four months to get here. Any sober look at the claims by both parties in court would have resulted in a win by Take-Two. What's the alternative? Movie makers paying the Abraham Lincoln estate to make Lincoln? The White Sox demanding a license over the portrayal of the franchise in Eight Men Out? That isn't how art is supposed to interact with history.

As always, despite the happy ending to this specific case, the real enemy in all of this is the pervasive culture of ownership that causes the Pinkertons of the world to think they can control speech and content.

Filed Under: cease and desist, pinkertons, red dead redemption 2, trademark
Companies: pinkerton, take-two interactive


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 16 Apr 2019 @ 6:04pm

    "Nice pile of money you got there, why not share some?"

    As always, despite the happy ending to this specific case, the real enemy in all of this is the pervasive culture of ownership that causes the Pinkertons of the world to think they can control speech and content.

    Eh, I suspect this had less to do with wanting to 'control speech and content' and more to do with trying to get Take-Two to hand over some of the extensive profits they were/are making from the game in a 'go away' settlement.

    Unfortunately for the Pinkertons Take-Two decided to call their bluff, leaving them nothing to do but run away like would-be bullies suddenly facing someone willing and able to take them on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 16 Apr 2019 @ 6:29pm

      Re: "Nice pile of money you got there, why not share some?"

      Eh, I suspect this had less to do with wanting to 'control speech and content' and more to do with trying to get Take-Two to hand over some of the extensive profits they were/are making from the game in a 'go away' settlement.

      Actually, the bloody Pinkertons have a history of vindictive behavior and petty lawsuits. It isn't always about greed.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinkerton_(album)#Release_and_promotion

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Qwertygiy, 16 Apr 2019 @ 8:07pm

        Re: Re: "Nice pile of money you got there, why not share some?"

        If it was truly about controlling the speech about them, there are many other instances where the Pinkertons were portrayed in an unflattering light where they might have attempted to file a suit... but didn't.

        The 2001 film American Outlaws stars Allan Pinkerton himself as the sidekick villain, scheming to swindle farmers into selling their homes to the railroad, and murder them if they refuse. The film flopped. No complaint from Pinkerton.

        The 2013 song "Book, Saddle, And Go" by Clutch includes the line "Pinkerton man, murdering bastard, I'm gonna get even with you". It was not released as a single. No complaint from Pinkerton.

        More curiously, there wasn't any comment over the very successful game Bioshock Infinite, where the main character was a Pinkerton agent dismissed for being too brutal of a strikebreaker.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2019 @ 8:25pm

          Re: Re: Re: "Nice pile of money you got there, why not shar

          The reason Bioshock Infinite got a pass was because a man too brutal for Pinkerton to employ is pure fantasy.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2019 @ 8:19pm

    Pinkerton, which most gamers will not know is a real-life union-busting, outlaw-getting agency

    That's a polite way to phrase murderous mercenaries who killed striking workers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    mrtraver (profile), 16 Apr 2019 @ 8:48pm

    Damn ownership culture

    Work is hard. Now everyone want money for nothin, and their chicks for free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2019 @ 9:49pm

    I think if they had set the game in the present, it would have been different, but agree that the time that has passed would invalidate a trademark claim based on history.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2019 @ 11:37pm

    Wait, I thought out_of_the_blue and John Smith and Hamilton said that Pinkerton would win on grounds of IP law.

    You mean they were lying?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Matthew Cline (profile), 16 Apr 2019 @ 11:59pm

      Re:

      I don't see any such comments on the original article.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      John Smith, 17 Apr 2019 @ 12:25am

      Re:

      I think it's funny as fuck that script kiddies from 4chan, who rely on fake news sites such as this one for their porn and pirated movies, decide to bait me with stinky trolling on a new thread after chasing me from another one.

      When I dump the truth about Masnick and his lawyer friends you'll all be sorry. Not so impotent now, am I, fuckwit? I've got a shotgun here with your ass's name written all over it. You're going to die just like your precious Section 230. And I'll be far away, laughing!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 17 Apr 2019 @ 2:52am

    Well, Pinkerton agents are [in]famous for being criminals themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2019 @ 6:51am

    Simply change the name to Finkerton

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Shufflepants (profile), 17 Apr 2019 @ 7:27am

    Perhaps the most surprising aspect of all of this is that it took four months to get here.

    No, the most surprising thing is that Pinkerton is still a thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2019 @ 9:37am

      Re:

      Yeah perhaps that was why they fled so quickly - afraid people would look at their history and then roll up their sleeves to take out the trash - peacefully (petitioning arguing that said institution really shouldn't be licensed to work even as mall cops in light of their travesties) or otherwise.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.