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Dillinger Family Loses  Godfather  Game Case Against EA

Dillinger Family Loses Godfather Game Case Against EA

June 20, 2011 | By Mike Rose

Electronic Arts has won its court case against the Dillinger estate, which originally claimed that the company's use of the Dillinger name in its Godfather video game series was a violation of the copyright on the name.

EA first filed suit against 20th century bank robber John Dillinger's estate just over 20 months ago, as the family was threatening EA with litigation for using "Dillinger" in the name of a weapon in the Godfather video games.

The Dillinger estate, Indiana-based Dillinger, LLC, claimed to hold the "right of publicity" of the late John Herbert Dillinger, and trademarks for his name.

In the ruling at the U.S. District Court of Southern Indiana last Thursday, and reported by news site NWI, Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson said that the Indiana Supreme Court did not agree with the Dillinger family, as the right-of-publicity statute doesn't not apply to personalities who died before the law was passed.

EA used a 2007 case as its defense, in which a New York judge ruled that descendants of actress Marilyn Monroe should not be granted a right-of-publicity statute as Monroe had died before the law was put in place.

The Supreme Court also noted that depictions of Dillinger himself in popular culture have reinforced the tie between him and the Thompson submachine gun, and therefore EA was expressing its use of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

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