EA Says Use of Brands In Video Games Is Free Speech

In a document filed with a California court, the company seeks a declaratory statement that the presence of Bell helicopters in Battlefield 3 is a form of artistic expression and therefore protected by the first amendment. Textron previously said that that it is considering legal action over the unlicensed use of its trademarks for the AH-1Z, UH-1Y and V-22 Bell helicopters in the video game.

For EA, the use of the helicopters has nothing to do with trademarks, but simply serves to create a realistic combat scene. Conceivably, some may assume that the use of the helicopters could fall under trademark violations, but Paidcontent.org writes that the courts recently sided with video game makers.

For example, Rockstar was able use a "Pig Pen" club in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas despite claims from Los Angeles strip club "Play Pen" that trademarks were violated. EA also prevailed against a claim that attempted to use the word "Derringer" to describe Tommy Guns in Godfather video games. The current environment appears to favor artistic freedom over trademarks.

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  • Darkerson
    Yeah, they'll be fine with that, until, you know, someone does the same thing to them, and then they'll have a huge ass hissy fit.
    25
  • Marcus52
    The fact is, different games will make reference in quite obvious ways to elements of other games. For example, how often is some quote from Duke Nukem put into another game?

    Game publishers like EA have already taken a stance on this kind of thing - they'd rather see it as paying homage to their games than infringing on their copyrights. The helicopter thing falls into two categories here, paying homage to the real thing and the companies that made them, and making their games a bit more realistic by using real choppers.

    Now, if EA starts making helicopters - that might be a real reason for Bell to be concerned. I don't blame them for filing a suit though because these things should be clear under the law, and suits help the judicial system interpret the law clearly so that we all know where we stand.

    If I were Bell, I might have tested the waters, but mostly I'd be proud that my helicopters served so well, and were considered to be a fundamental component of modern combat today. And, they should be proud.

    ;)
    18
  • Other Comments
  • Darkerson
    Yeah, they'll be fine with that, until, you know, someone does the same thing to them, and then they'll have a huge ass hissy fit.
    25
  • jprahman
    IIRC, there was a notice in the game about the use of brand names of weapons.
    5
  • Marcus52
    The fact is, different games will make reference in quite obvious ways to elements of other games. For example, how often is some quote from Duke Nukem put into another game?

    Game publishers like EA have already taken a stance on this kind of thing - they'd rather see it as paying homage to their games than infringing on their copyrights. The helicopter thing falls into two categories here, paying homage to the real thing and the companies that made them, and making their games a bit more realistic by using real choppers.

    Now, if EA starts making helicopters - that might be a real reason for Bell to be concerned. I don't blame them for filing a suit though because these things should be clear under the law, and suits help the judicial system interpret the law clearly so that we all know where we stand.

    If I were Bell, I might have tested the waters, but mostly I'd be proud that my helicopters served so well, and were considered to be a fundamental component of modern combat today. And, they should be proud.

    ;)
    18