'Red Dead Redemption 2' and Rockstar Games In Legal Battle Over ‘Pinkerton’ Name

We knew the Pinkertons weren’t to be messed with in Red Dead Redemption 2. But it looks like they’re prepared for a fight in real life as well.

Red Dead 2
(Photo: Red Dead Base)

Based on this report from The Blast, a group known as Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations has sent a cease and desist letter to both Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive, believing that their Pinkerton Detective badge was used without permission in the hit sequel.

The company notes that it has been around for 165 years, and that “in the 1870’s the agency worked with law enforcement to apprehend famous criminals across the country.” That’s almost the opposite of the way they believe they come across in Red Dead 2, as they note that they are being “used as villains, hunting down the game’s protagonists.”

The letter indicates that the Pinkerton group is associated with the game, though they never gave an official say-so in doing so, and that it’s “likely to blur the distinctive character and tarnish the reputation of Pinkerton’s famous trademarks.”

But rather than have the game removed from shelves, the group noted that they are “willing to discuss a lump sum figure” to settle the matter. If this doesn’t happen, however, they’re prepared to sue for trademark infringement, amongst other charges.

However, Rockstar isn’t backing down, and has already headed to federal court with an injunction, as they believe that the use of the Pinkerton name is actually protected by the First Amendment.

In their retort, the company noted that the game is a “historically accurate videogame set in the Wild West in the late 1800’s,” and that “historical references are woven into the fabric of the game at every level.”

They also note, “The game’s reference to the historical Pinkerton National Detective Agency and its agents is but one of a myriad of ways that Red Dead 2 accurately portrays the historical Nineteenth Century American Landscape.”

The publisher also note that the Pinkertons aren’t actually used that often within the game, as there are only 10 of the 106 main missions that actually involve them.

Rockstar then added that they have “long been a staple in works of historical fiction about the Wild West” and even made mention of such works as HBO’s Deadwood and the film The Long Riders, as well as Elton John’s “Ballad of a Well-Known Gun.”

The judge hasn’t provided any remarks on this case yet, so this is definitely a wait-and-see matter. But it seems like Rockstar could likely be victorious, considering the usage of the Pinkerton name and the First Amendment. We’ll see how things go over the next few weeks.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is available now for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

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(Hat tip to The Blast for the details!)