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 The Verge 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 referenced throughout media, from Deadwood to Bioshock Infinite to a Weezer album that the agency also tried (and failed) to sue. And also, if I may add, this Clutch banger: