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EA Files Suit Against Bank Robber John Dillinger's Estate

EA Files Suit Against Bank Robber John Dillinger's Estate

September 2, 2009 | By Kris Graft

September 2, 2009 | By Kris Graft
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In a preemptive move, Electronic Arts filed suit against 20th century bank robber John Dillinger's estate, which threatened EA with litigation for using "Dillinger" in the names of weapons in Godfather video games.

In a suit filed August 27, originally found by GamePolitics, EA said that in 2006's Godfather game, there is a weapon called the "Dillinger Tommy Gun," while 2009's Godfather II game features a weapon dubbed the "Modern Dillinger."

But the Dillinger estate, Indiana-based Dillinger, LLC, claims to hold the "right of publicity" of the late John Herbert Dillinger, and trademarks for his name. The estate had yet to file suit against EA, but said "Dillinger" weapons in the game maker's titles infringe on the trademark.

EA said that it doesn't violate any right to publicity or infringe on Dillinger LLC's trademark, as the video games created by EA are works "protected by the First Amendment." EA is hoping that the court will agree and declare that the video games do not violate or infringe rights or trademarks.

Dillinger LLC's attorneys contacted EA in July, accusing the publisher of wrongdoing. EA said the estate threatened the publisher with litigation "unless it agreed to pay Dillinger millions of dollars..."

EA added in its complaint, "Following Dillinger's recent conduct, EA is faced with the choice of either abandoning its rights to develop, publish, and sell the works at issue or risk liability for damages."

John Dillinger was born in 1903, and became notorious as a bank robber, and for his escape from a high-security prison in Crown Point, Indiana, where he was incarcerated for the alleged murder of a police officer. Authorities shot and killed him in Chicago in 1934.


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