Take-Two is finding itself in a new legal battle after a cease and desist letter was issued to the publishing giant by Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, the modern-day incarnation of the Pinkerton Detective Agency formed back in 1850.
Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption 2 makes numerous references to the Pinkertons throughout its story, as the organisation is responsible for hunting down protagonist Arthur Morgan during the game.
As a result, Pinkerton Consulting is now requesting that Take-Two pay an unspecified lump sum fee or a share of royalties down the line. The company takes issue with the name due to the fact it might have led people to believe the Pinkertons were involved in Red Dead 2's development.
Take-Two has countered saying that the game's application of the Pinkertons name is protected under the 'First Amendment in the United States.'
'Put simply, [Pinkerton] cannot use trademark law to own the past and prevent creators from including historical references to Pinkerton agents in depictions of the American West,' said the company.
It goes on to say that the game's use of the Pinkerton name is one of a 'myriad of ways' that Rockstar has attempted to create a realistic depiction of Old West. In addition, Take-Two noted that the Pinkertons name has been used in numerous media, including The Long Riders, Deadwood, and the video game BioShock Infinite.
'Creative works about the American West are permitted as a matter of law to include such real historical events, figures, and businesses,' it added. '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.'
The publisher also said that it believes Pinkerton Consulting filed its complaint as it simply wants to profit from Red Dead 2's considerable success. It also has requested that a judge deny trial by jury, and wishes Pinkerton to fork out for Take-Two's legal fees and related expenses for the case.
Red Dead Redemption 2 was released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in October.