Following demands from the real-life Pinkerton for royalties on Red Dead Redemption 2, the game’s publisher has sued the Pinkerton agency. The Red Dead Redemption 2 Pinkerton lawsuit was filed on January 11 by Take-Two and Rockstar Games. The publisher is suing to have their use of Pinkerton agents as fair use.
The Verge reports that Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations delivered a cease and desist order to Take-Two Interactive in December. The order came about two months after Red Dead Redemption 2 released, and took issue with the game’s fictional Pinkerton agents — Andrew Milton and Edgar Ross. Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, a subsidiary of Securitas AB, demanded a lump sum or ongoing royalties for the use of Pinkerton copyright.
Take-Two’s suit contends that Red Dead Redemption 2 is protected by the first amendment. The publisher also notes that the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, as it was called during the 19th century, played a major role in real history. As such, Pinkerton agents have appeared in dozens of works of fiction, all without a cease and desist from the real-life company.
The Red Dead Redemption 2 Pinkerton lawsuit accuses Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations of attempting to profit from Red Dead Redemption 2‘s huge sales. Take-Two notes that the game sold over 17 million copies in its first two weeks available, and the game was noted as historically accurate by a number of news outlets. Take-Two’s lawsuit declares, “historical fiction—television, movies, plays, books, and games—would suffer greatly if trademark claims like Defendants’ [Pinkerton’s] could even possibly succeed.” The lawsuit also states that Pinkerton “cannot use trademark law to own the past.”
Agent Milton and Agent Ross, the two prominent Pinkertons in Red Dead Redemption 2, act as the game’s main antagonists. The two are working for a railroad tycoon to track down and eradicate the van der Linde gang. Take-Two argues that the two follow closely to what really happened during that era. Pinkerton was founded in 1850 by Allan Pinkerton as a private detective company that was often hired to protect railroad investments.
Take-Two’s suit against Pinkerton can be found in full here, on Scribd.