EA in legal showdown with Dillinger, LLC

Publisher files suit after purported rights holder of famed bank robber demands "millions" for use of name in Godfather games.

Earlier this year, EA's second attempt to adapt The Godfather films into a game resulted in lackluster sales and a dismal critical reception. Two months after the game's April 2009 launch on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, EA Games president Frank Gibeau explicitly stated that "we're not going to do another one." But just when EA thought it was out, the Godfather franchise pulls it back in.

The Dillinger family certainly knows how to make a demand.

As spotted by Game Politics, EA filed suit in the US District Court of Northern California against Dillinger, LLC last week over the in-game use of a pair of weapons bearing the famed criminal's moniker. Specifically, the firearms in question are the "Dillinger Tommy Gun" found in The Godfather and the "Modern Dillinger" available in The Godfather II as part of a downloadable content package.

According to the filing, the suit stems from legal saber-rattling initiated by Dillinger, LLC, which claims it owns "the publicity rights for and trademark interest in the name of late bandit John Dillinger." The complaint alleges that on July 22--exactly 75 years after the bank robber was gunned down by the FBI in Chicago--Dillinger LLC contacted EA threatening legal action if the publisher did not agree to pay "millions of dollars for the game elements purportedly covered by its publicity rights and trademarks."

As noted by Game Politics, Dillinger, LLC's claim apparently stems from an Indiana law that "protects a person's personality for 100 years after his or her death." EA, on the other hand, contends that its use of Dillinger's name in The Godfather games is protected under the First Amendment, and it does not violate any claimed rights of publicity or trademarks held by Dillinger, LLC.

EA is seeking declaratory judgment in its favor that the use of John Dillinger's name in its games does not violate Dillinger, LLC's rights and to prevent further litigation over the matter in the future.

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Discussion

84 comments
Quezakolt
Quezakolt

@CoolKidX EA just buys out devs, steal their franchises, sometimes shut down studios, and are generally not good toward their employees. For exemple I could state UbiSoft, which is starting to act in the same way. They own Longtail Studios, kicked everyone out, so they could lower salaries & remove social advantages. The people from Longtail are still bound from their contract which prevents them to work in the industry because of "trade secrets". You can find theses kind of things about EA too, if you look for it. So it was in that sense that I exprimed my self. I do not think huge compagnies which uses such business practises are any good, at all. that's it.

F1lth
F1lth

Wonder if you can buy the rights to anyone's name? I'd get Gods...

johnryandaplin
johnryandaplin

@CoolKidX all those games you mentioned was made by companies that EA bought, so EA just buys companies, and the company staff makes the games, just so they have the EA logo in them

D3A7HJ0K3R
D3A7HJ0K3R

Activision is the company that milks stuff,

CoolKidX
CoolKidX

@Quezakolt Why? So EA wont have any money left to make games like: Battlefield,C&C,Dead Space, The Sims and Spore? Not to forget they own Bioware. So yeah EA sucks for milking stuff and going sometimes to far, but keep in mind what franchises they created.

Quezakolt
Quezakolt

I just want EA to lose every lawsuit they are involved with :D

coenv1
coenv1

Awsome, I going to buy this one. I dont care about the bugs im used to buggy games so i dont think this will make a diffrence.

mp01juve
mp01juve

I wonder how much the film Public Enemies with Johnny Dep

Chris_Potter
Chris_Potter

I'd love to see EA fixing this by patching out the gun models of the game and replacing them :P

phynixblack
phynixblack

@DrKill09 - It's his family suing. This is perfectly legal and I find it hilarious EA is finally going to get shafted for making such a simple mistake. Also, when your Family member has a famous, iconic gun named after him, robber or not, you will make all the money you can.

DrKill09
DrKill09

How can you own a person's name? Especially who would want to own a criminal's name? :roll:

benjy117
benjy117

How can anyone own the rights of a person alive or dead? Wouldn't that kind of being like a dead slave? I guess slavery exists legally in that sense.

pankaj360
pankaj360

wats there to fight its just a lame issue

maliGGs
maliGGs

what about John T. Thompson? The guy who created the thompson? He won't see jack s**t outta the game. Dillinger, LLC should be stoked they are getting a bit of publicity over the thing, if it weren't for that movie with johnny depp i wouldn't have a clue who dillinger was anyway.

Paul_GameFury
Paul_GameFury

So a group that owns the 'rights' to someone who stole for a living is suing because they think someone stole from them?

painkiller6363
painkiller6363

dont come after me... my mom is one of the groups lawyers and its johns great nephue who runs it i guess and hes sorta stuck up and idk i wana c watll happin here cross ur fingers 4 EA tho.

Bakkoda24
Bakkoda24

Big whoop. This is EA trying to desperately save themselves and getting slapped in the face while doing it. In my opinion, it's one of these things that you have to say "why even bother?" to and expect it to be forgotten in a week. Just hope that EA doesn't lose to much money or we may be seeing some titles shut down. With so many games having the EA logo stamped on, they have tech support and customer service all over the PC Gaming world.

fif
fif

Unless Dillinger LLC can prove that the use of the bandit's name was a revenue driver, I doubt Dillinger will see a dime. Federal law and the Constitution always trump state law when there is a conflict. As a side note to those with EA bashing one liners, read the article. I mean physically read it! EA is filing a counterclaim against Dillinger. Dillinger LLC is wasting EA's time with a BS claim that, even if it had any merit, would not deserve "millions of dollars." If you aren't literate enough to read an article before commenting, go back to your cave with the other bottom 5% of the gene pool. If you honestly have the belief that EA is in the wrong, express it, but comments like "EA is full of greedy scumbags" and "Don't buy EA games" are just irrelevant and demonstrate no capacity to hold an intelligent thought on the topic.

IbnLaAhad
IbnLaAhad

What a d***. Dilinger LLC obviously is just cashing in on this small and pointless thing. "Dillinger LLC contacted EA threatening legal action if the publisher did not agree to pay "millions of dollars for the game elements purportedly covered by its publicity rights and trademarks." How stupid. God**** Dillinger LLC. Even John Dillinger, if he was alive today, wouldn't give a d***.

ahnzz
ahnzz

what if someone named their kid John Dillinger ..

Walker34
Walker34

EA are a bunch of greedy scumbags

P8rt
P8rt

@ grandstream..the awnser is yes ...Son of Sam was overturned in 1991 subsequent revised state laws have also been struck down...@EA ...it is the llc laws that prevent me from selling toliet paper with your logo on it.

Gruug
Gruug

Normally I don't agree with much when it comes to EA. On this one I have to say that EA is right. Now, if EA turns around and sues another company because EA now thinks they own the rights to the Dillinger name I withdraw my previous statement.

kakarote22
kakarote22

70 years later and from beyond the grave, Dillinger is still stealing money from people.

Fransir
Fransir

wow really stupid.like how disney bought marvel.stupid idea

Corvan
Corvan

Another stupid lawsuit. Its a name! get over it and move on.

Dynamo11
Dynamo11

Oh come on!!!! Any excuse to get a few millions

peetowser
peetowser

LOL at this guy trying to make a living off a deceased bandit 75 years after his death... Is he implying the Godfather game exploited and made profits off of the Dillinger name??? Is he seriously implying this was a good reason for gamers to buy the game, because it had the Dillinger name in it?? This isn't misrepresentation either, it's not like he's accusing EA of tainting the memory of the man... EA used the name for an in-game gun... Maybe letting this guy profit from the actions of a murderer in the first place was the mistake here? Is Marilyn Manson getting sued anytime soon too? You know Charles Manson could use the dough...

vivendidoom
vivendidoom

holy crap, seriously? is the economy THAT screwed up that companies are now suing over rights to a persons name, and its use is in line with the constitution? whats next...Mr. Myomoto sues the American population for masquerading as Mario on Halloween?

jamyskis
jamyskis

Whoever thought I, an EA-hater of many years, would end up siding with EA...

fps_d0minat0r
fps_d0minat0r

@ badtaker microsofts in the race with them too.

ropumar
ropumar

@mgs16925 Exactly. The claim is ridiculous even if weren't a criminal. But since he is a criminal, the Son of Sam law would be more than enough to make this suit a laugh. Easy win for EA.

shawn7324
shawn7324

Always someone trying to sue a company for easy money.

atopp399
atopp399

He was a criminal...no case.

YoJim8obaJoe
YoJim8obaJoe

man yanks really will try to sue for anything,imagine the shock on their face if they tried that in a country like france and get laughed out of court

Grandstream
Grandstream

I'm confused...if these guys were making such a fuss over how EA utilized the Dillinger name, then what the heck happened with Public Enemies? Did they get compensated in that instance...?

mgs16925
mgs16925

Dillenger is only famous as a criminal. You'd think EA would be protected by the Son of Sam laws. Of course, maybe they are.

imjustjames
imjustjames

The only reason why Dillinger's harrassing EA is because they know they got the money and they want some of it. This has nothing to do with violating some rights for some company or what not. They see how successful EA is and they want some of the action. That's all this is about and all it's always about, money. No pride, no violation of anything, just money. Don't get me wrong, I despise EA as a game company, not because of jealousy, but just because they use their industry position to get away with pumping out subpar games that they know are subpar or "terribly mediocre". There's something about EA that's just plain disgusting, can't quite put my finger on it. Other game companies in the same league as EA just don't seem as sneaky or arrogant as EA. I guess you could say that they're the dirtiest player in this industry and it's affecting my choice as a consumer to not buy their games because it also gives me a sense of disgust that I might be fueling another subpar project of theirs. I think EA is way overhyped as being a "super-publisher" . BTW, I've heard so many bad things about GF2 that I refuse to even rent it.

DrDeth
DrDeth

"We didn't name the guns after John Dillinger. We named them after the producer's dog..."

Haloman22
Haloman22

Well, what I meant was, EA just brings it on itself. They trashed WHATEVER reputation they had with their strongarm tatics. Ever though this lawsuit is BS, its a sign of what EA's doing. I, myself, hate EA with all fibers of my being not dedicated to hating Jack Thompson.

Neogenic
Neogenic

Wow, i am surprised such lawsuits even exsist!

Sub-Scorpion
Sub-Scorpion

It is the fault of companies such as Dillinger, LLC that no good real world games where you play as a famous (or infamous) person ever show up... I mean just imagine games where you can play as bonnie and clyde...until you both get shot that is...or imagine playing as george bush someday in the future (pointless game, yes, but it would probably be fun for at least and hour)

KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

Everyone is suing everyone these days for everything / anything !!!

SDBusDriver1979
SDBusDriver1979

Its nice to see that trash does not evolve even 75 years later. Somebody call the FBI to finish the job they forgot to clean.