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EA Says Use of Brands In Video Games Is Free Speech

By - Source: PaidContent.org | B 39 comments

According to Electronic Arts, the use of brand names in video games falls under creative freedom.

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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Top Comments
  • 25 Hide
    Darkerson , January 12, 2012 2:10 AM
    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.
  • 18 Hide
    Marcus52 , January 12, 2012 2:40 AM
    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.

    ;) 
Other Comments
  • 25 Hide
    Darkerson , January 12, 2012 2:10 AM
    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.
  • Display all 39 comments.
  • 5 Hide
    jprahman , January 12, 2012 2:40 AM
    IIRC, there was a notice in the game about the use of brand names of weapons.
  • 18 Hide
    Marcus52 , January 12, 2012 2:40 AM
    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.

    ;) 
  • 1 Hide
    nottheking , January 12, 2012 3:11 AM
    If the trademark claim is over the designations used... Bell doesn't own them, the US Government does, and the current rule is that intellectual property owned by the US government is freely useable... If not relinquished into the public domain entirely.

    Similarly, if the name is NOT the same, it, in many cases, would fall into the realm of "parody;" anything appearing in any Grand Theft Auto game would be a case of this. And this is, likewise, artistic expression and protected speech, and fair use.

    Also, where are the lawsuits threatened against Activision for Call of Duty Umpteen?
  • -5 Hide
    gokanis , January 12, 2012 3:12 AM
    Maybe bell doesn't want EA's meaningless homage.
  • 7 Hide
    LORD_ORION , January 12, 2012 3:18 AM
    As a tax payer, you are technically a co-owner of the products in question made by Bell helicopters, and because the purchaser is the federal government, your free speech on the depiction and use of said products must be upheld. (be it in writing or animated, interactive pictures)

    It is a different story entirely if the product was a Lamborghini.

    I would go so far as to say, that any company receiving any corporate welfare from the government needs to suck it up, and realize that part of the deal of getting tax payer money entitles tax payers to protected speech. If they don't like that deal, they are free not to sell the product to the federal government, or take corporate welfare from the government,
  • 4 Hide
    smashley , January 12, 2012 3:22 AM
    I'm no expert obviously but you don't see Bell/Textron suing every time one of their choppers on TV/news programs. Not sure this is really any different. Since we don't see all the other manufacturers of the various weapons/vehicles suing too, there's probably some fair use exemption the folks at Textron aren't privy to.
  • 7 Hide
    TheZander , January 12, 2012 3:28 AM
    ^^ Exactly. This is ridiculous. Putting my brand of car or cellphone or helicopter in someone's video game just brings my product to light more. If anything, I am helped by it being in the video game or movie. The company making the game is not making helicopters to sell. This is so BS. I hate to side with EA, but for crying out loud. Why would Bell throw a fit over this? If anything they are being given some good publicity for how awesome and cool their helicopters are. I don't see how having their product in a video game can to anything but help them.

    I can CERTAINLY see how whining and complaining about it will HURT them though.
  • 3 Hide
    TheZander , January 12, 2012 3:29 AM
    Marcus52The 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.


    My "^^ Exactly." was aimed at THIS quote. Time delay.
  • 3 Hide
    capt_taco , January 12, 2012 3:45 AM
    Here's an idea: Maybe everyone should stop being so butthurt about everything and running off to call the lawyers at the drop of a hat. Things would work a lot better.
  • 1 Hide
    idono , January 12, 2012 3:47 AM
    There's a difference between buying the chopper of a manufacturer and owning the rights to it. I bet that hardly anyone knows that the US Army dosen't own any of the designs to large parts of their arsenal. They are outsourcing everything to private firms that own and rights to the weapons they develop. The US army only owns the product and not the designs per say.

    So EA is largely at fault here can't use private property in their games. There are reasons why they should loose. First is that they are cheap asshats. Second being that IW and Namco have huge ass lists of military hardware they have secured rights to use in CoD and Ace Combat. Third EA are just trying to do what they allways do, cheat.
  • 3 Hide
    liquidchild , January 12, 2012 3:53 AM
    Good job EA...Ill go ahead and keep my SWTOR toon names then..... Bobafat and OBgyn are OK names now. All I am trying to do with the names is "create a realistic space combat scene"
  • -1 Hide
    captainsmokey , January 12, 2012 4:09 AM
    Than why doesn't Rockstar use real names for their cars in GTA.

    And heck in some video games Corps. buy their name into the game. You see it a lot in The Need For Speed Series.
  • 0 Hide
    Chipi , January 12, 2012 4:20 AM
    Because most car manufacturers are reluctant to allow their products to be used in perpetrating crimes, or to take a considerable amount of damage. Even if it's just a video game...
  • -2 Hide
    jkflipflop98 , January 12, 2012 4:20 AM
    captainsmokeyThan why doesn't Rockstar use real names for their cars in GTA.And heck in some video games Corps. buy their name into the game. You see it a lot in The Need For Speed Series.


    Because the money to develop a Corvette or a Ferrari isn't paid for by US tax money. The money to design and build Blackhawk and Apache helicopters was/is paid for by US tax money. The US public owns the UH-1 and AZ-1, not Bell, and not the military.
  • 0 Hide
    wildkitten , January 12, 2012 4:43 AM
    idonoThere's a difference between buying the chopper of a manufacturer and owning the rights to it. I bet that hardly anyone knows that the US Army dosen't own any of the designs to large parts of their arsenal. They are outsourcing everything to private firms that own and rights to the weapons they develop. The US army only owns the product and not the designs per say.So EA is largely at fault here can't use private property in their games. There are reasons why they should loose. First is that they are cheap asshats. Second being that IW and Namco have huge ass lists of military hardware they have secured rights to use in CoD and Ace Combat. Third EA are just trying to do what they allways do, cheat.

    Actually that's not true. The government contracts these companies to build the equipment. The government owns the rights to the design and such. Good luck ever seeing Bell or any other contractor successfully sell these products, which are classified in design, to anyone else without the governments permission.
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , January 12, 2012 4:52 AM
    Marcus52The 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.


    if my helicopters were shown in a favorable light, I want to submenu and again to show where you can buy, or get in contact with the company if you would like one. If my helicopters were shown to be crap I want my name is stricken from the game.

    smashleyI'm no expert obviously but you don't see Bell/Textron suing every time one of their choppers on TV/news programs. Not sure this is really any different. Since we don't see all the other manufacturers of the various weapons/vehicles suing too, there's probably some fair use exemption the folks at Textron aren't privy to.


    it's mostly seen as free advertisement.

  • 0 Hide
    bigo65 , January 12, 2012 5:02 AM
    Bell does sell those helicopters.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_412
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_212

    The designs are not owned by the US Gov't. Funds for development are provided on the basis that a certain amount of aircraft will be sold at a certain price. Bell owns the Huey family of helicopters, just like Lockheed Martin owns the C-130 design and Northrop Grumman owns the B-2 design.
  • 0 Hide
    Maxor127 , January 12, 2012 5:03 AM
    Marcus52The 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.

    You mean a quote from the Evil Dead movies or some other movie that Duke Nukem stole from.
  • 0 Hide
    cookoy , January 12, 2012 5:40 AM
    i'd be more than happy to get free advertising of my products if the ads were done to promote positively my products' image and reputation. if Bell wins then imagine for instance, all the casinos in a Las Vegas street scene will start suing the movie producers of trademark infringements.
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