In case you weren't aware, Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations is a real life detective agency, founded all the way back in 1850. Then known as Pinkerton National Detective Agency, the company was apparently very active in tracking down real outlaws at the time, and the name has become more or less synonymous with Western media of all kinds. Fast forward to Red Dead Redemption 2, which of course features Pinkerton agents attempting to bring down Dutch and his gang, and the real world agency isn't happy.
According to The Blast, the Pinkertons sent a cease and desist letter to Rockstar Games at the end of last year regarding its inclusion in the smash hit game. The company claims Rockstar used Pinkerton trademarks, including the detective badge, without permission, and that the agents in the game are framed "as villains, hunting the game's protagonists." In its letter, the agency claims Red Dead 2 "is likely to blur the distinctive character and tarnish the reputation of Pinkerton’s famous trademarks."
Pinkerton is willing to negotiate a lump sum settlement, but Rockstar isn't going down without a fight. The publisher itself filed a lawsuit against the agency, asking for an injunction against it and asserting that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution covers its use of the Pinkertons in the game. Rockstar's argument leans on the game's historically accurate nature: "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."
Rockstar also says that the Pinkertons don't even feature very much over the course of the game's story, appearing in just a handful of the numerous missions. It also cites the many uses of the Pinkerton name in many other Western themed media, such as the film The Long Riders, the TV show Deadwood, and even Elton John's song Ballad of a Well-Known Gun.
We have a feeling this won't be the last we hear of this case, as both sides don't appear to want to budge. Hopefully an amicable solution can be reached between the two companies.