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EA claims free speech in legal dispute over helicopter usage in  Battlefield 3

EA claims free speech in legal dispute over helicopter usage in Battlefield 3

January 9, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

In a preemptive move, Electronic Arts has filed suit against aviation company Textron Inc, which threatened to sue EA over its use of branded helicopters in Battlefield 3, reports PaidContent.

In this new case, EA hopes to convince a California court that Battlefield 3's use of Textron's "Bell" helicopters is a form of artistic expression protected by the First Amendment, since these real-world brands help the game realistically portray military combat.

Textron previously warned EA that it would take legal action to defend its trademarks to the AH-1Z, UH-1Y and V-22 Bell helicopters depicted in the game, but EA chose to file a its own suit to settle the disagreement.

Outside of Battlefield 3, EA also featured the Bell AH-1Z attack helicopter in 2005's Battlefield 2, giving the company some history with the Bell brand.

EA encountered a similar legal scuffle in 2009, when the Indiana-based Dillinger, LLC (the estate of 20th century bank robber John Dillinger) threatened EA over the use of the "Dillinger" name in The Godfather (2006) and The Godfather II (2009).

In this case, the court sided with EA, ruling that artistic expression takes precedent over a company's trademark rights, particularly since Indiana's right-of-publicity statue doesn't protect personalities who died before it was written into law.

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