Red Dead Redemption 2 Developer Rockstar Finds Itself in a Legal Battle Over Pinkerton Company Name

Those darn Pinkertons are claiming that Red Dead Redemption 2's use of their company name will tarnish their reputation.

It’s no doubt that Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2 has won players over with its gripping story and character development. The storytelling has been done so wonderfully that players have grown to dislike names such as the O’Driscoll’s and Pinkerton’s. However, it turns out that Pinkertons are real and are currently in a legal head-to-head with Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive.

The Blast obtained some legal documents related to the case. These apparently state that real-life company Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations sent a cease and desist letter back in December to Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive.

Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations are accusing the video game developer and publisher of using their trademarks and featuring the Pinkerton Detective badge in-game without permission. Additionally, they claim that the characters representing the agency “are used as villains, hunting the game’s protagonists”. They state in the legal letter that they never gave their authorization to be connected to Red Dead Redemption 2 and believe the game “is likely to blur the distinctive character and tarnish the reputation of Pinkerton’s famous trademarks.”

According to the company, they claim to have been around for 165 years and were working in the 1870’s with law enforcement to apprehend famous criminals. Red Dead Redemption 2 is set in 1899.

Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations apparently make it clear that they are “willing to discuss a lump sum figure” to settle the dispute or they will proceed further and sue for trademark infringment and other claims.

Rockstar Games filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking an injunction against the company, ruling that Rockstar’s use of the Pinkertons in the game is covered by the First Amendment. They said that the game is a “historically accurate videogame set in the Wild West in the late 1800s.” and that “historical references are woven into the fabric of the game at every level.”

They also state that the reference to the Pinkertons and its agents is “but one of a myriad of ways that Red Dead 2 accuratley portrays the historical Ninteenth Century American landscape.” Furthermore, they mention that the Pinkertons aren’t featured all that much in the game, using the example that only ten missions feature Pinkerton characters out of the games available 106 missions in the 60-hour game.

There’s also the arguement Rockstar makes in saying that the term Pinkerton has “long been a staple in works of historical fiction about the Wild West,” including films like “The Long Riders,” the television show “Deadwood,” and songs like Elton John’s “Ballad of a Well-Known Gun.”

Rockstar is asking that a judge rules the case in their favor and declares that they are not infringing on any Pinkerton trademarks.

Red Dead Redemption launched on October 26, 2018, and has done spectacularly in regards to sales and awards. It made it to the top spot for the third week running in the UK sales chart and had shipped over 17 million copies worldwide back in November. and also leads the 2019 GDC award nominations due later this year.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is available for Xbox One and PS4.

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Ben Bayliss

Based in the UK and adores venturing through FPS horrors and taking photos in pretty much anything with a functioning photo mode. Also likes car games.

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