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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.