Indiana Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson has ruled in favor of games publisher Electronic Arts in a case against the estate of American gangster and bank robber John Dillinger. The suit was filed by EA in response to threats of litigation from the Dillinger estate for using the “Dillinger” name for a machinegun in the Godfather games.
Magnus-Stinson commented that Dillinger's association with the Thompson (or “Tommy Gun”), after which the Dillinger in EA's game was modeled, had been cemented in popular culture over the years. Therefore, EA’s use of the Dillinger name can be considered free speech and under the protection of the First Amendment.
So there you have it. If you’ve got a machinegun, you can go ahead and call it a Dillinger without worrying about legal threats from the Dillinger estate. Just don’t shoot us, please.
Jun 21, 2011