The Pinkertons Are Still Around, Suing Over Red Dead Redemption 2

The Pinkertons Are Still Around, Suing Over Red Dead Redemption 2

I have learned two things today. One is that publishers Take-Two find themselves in the middle of a legal battle over Red Dead Redemption 2. Two is that the Pinkertons, famous detective villains from the 19th century’s old, wild west are still around in 2019.

As Polygon report, the Pinkertons — now owned by Swedish security company Securitas AB and called Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations — sent a cease-and-desist notice to Take-Two last month, asking for either a single payment or a royalty arrangement for Red Dead 2’s use of the term “Pinkerton” throughout its story.

In Red Dead 2, your gang spends almost the entire game being pursued by a pair of Pinkertons, and the agency is frequently called out by name. 2019’s Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations claim that the game’s use of the agency so prominently implies that it was created with the permission of the company.

Take-Two, meanwhile, argue that use of the word is justified on the grounds of historical accuracy, since in the actual west the Pinkertons were doing exactly what they’re shown as doing in the game. They’ve now filed a suit of their own, seeking to have the game’s Pinkerton agents declared as fair use.

The publisher’s suit also points out that the Pinkertons are featured throughout any Western media seeking to, from Deadwood to Bioshock Infinite. And also, if I may add, this Clutch banger:


  • That’s just ridiculous, they are in so many movies and things its not funny.

    When playing the game though I did think it weird that they used them, it felt out of place because they don’t seem to use (from what I could tell) and other real-world references in the game – the old gunslingers of the west are fictional instead of using real ones, the states and towns are all fictional, etc.

    • It does refer to real places. Anywhere where the game takes place is fictional and generally the places they are trying to imitate are not referenced, but from memory they mention New York, Chicago, I think New Hampshire was mentioned and they also mention plenty of European countries.

      • Yes but those places are never used in the game just casually referenced (except for god damn Tahiti) – the lawsuit is about using something prominently in the game.

  • But they became the FBI! How are they still a thing?!?! Also, Deadwood. I remember Weezer getting sued for the same thing just this moment.

    • that’s not entirely true, when the FBI was formed in 1896 the Pinkertons had already got a bad name for themselves, particularly in the aftermath of the Homestead Mill Strike (aka Homestead Riot) in 1892 that led to the Anti-Pinkerton act being passed in 1893, this prevented the Government from hiring Private Detectives or Mercenaries.

      The Pinkertons definitely filled the same role in their hayday though, albeit working for the Dollar and not the People.

      • Yeah, I remember the start of their falling out of favour stuff (it was event that became that century’s Han/Greedo shot first scenario), but I thought the FBI was created to replace the need to use Pinkertons and the like an simultaneously absorbed/poached many of their specialists.

    • Because the pinkertons continued their business, pinkerton is still a registered trademark Securitas AB.

      • I’m assuming, given their Swiss ownership, they are based in or around Luxembourg and are primarily utilised to investigate financial fraud by other governments and firms.
        Imma have to read about this now. My interest is piqued.

  • I think this is awesome news. Because we’ve allowed massive companies to absolutely shit all over the once fine gaming industry which WAS more art then profit. And everyone is to blame. When the season pass module was first released everyone cried foul, but bought it anyway. When micro transactions were put into full priced games everyone cried foul, but bought them anyway. Now, a simple game developer sitting by his or her computer 12 hours a day to meet ridiculous deadlines earns not much more than the minimum wage, while the CEO’s and share holders get literally millions a year for… being there. I’m an old school gamer. I see games as the ultimate modern expression of true art. But that happens so rarely now. And if one stupidity rich company wants to sue another over semantics, AWESOME! Hopefully Take Two lose, and their share prices dive, their company goes into administration.

  • the one time where i am actually on the side of T2i, but then i also hate seeing stuff like guns and cars being misnamed because of stupid copyright law implementation.

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