SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Video-game developer Electronic Arts wants a federal judge to declare that its “Dillinger Tommy Gun” and “Modern Dillinger” weapons created for the mafia games “The Godfather” and “The Godfather II” do not violate the trademarks of the late gangster John Dillinger. The company insists the virtual weapons are protected by the First Amendment as “expressive works.”
Dillinger LLC, which claims to own the rights to Dillinger’s name, accused EA of infringing on its intellectual property rights by creating the guns for use in “The Godfather” and “The Godfather II,” games that simulate the organized crime underworld of New York in the mid-1900s.
Dillinger LLC contacted EA and “threatened EA with litigation unless it agreed to pay Dillinger millions of dollars for the game elements purportedly covered by its publicity right and trademarks,” according to EA’s action in Federal Court.
Dillinger, a U.S. bank robber infamous for the 1934 murder of a Chicago police officer and later for his escape from prison, was shot and killed by the FBI after attempting to dodge agents outside a Chicago theater.
EA seeks a declaration that the depictions of the guns do not infringe on any of Dillinger’s trademarks. Their attorneys, R. James Slaughter and R. Adam Lauridsen with Keker and Van Nest, were unavailable for comment.