The Pinkertons have issued a cease-and-desist letter to Take-Two Interactive over the fictional Pinkerton agents Andrew Milton and Edgar Ross, who both appear in Red Dead Redemption 2. In return, Take-Two is suing to declare the two characters fair use as part of a historical setting.
The Verge reports that Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, which still exists today as a subsidiary of Swedish security firm Securitas AB, issued the cease-and-desist notice in December 2018. In its letter, Pinkerton praised the Rockstar Games' "clear affection" for the company, but said it created the false impression that Red Dead Redemption 2 was made with advice from the Pinkerton company.
Take-Two was asked to pay either a lump sum or ongoing royalties for using Pinkerton agents in its game. But Take-Two countered that the usage of Pinkerton agents is protected by the First Amendment.
Take-Two notes that fictional usage of the Pinkerton Agency has been used in many different works of fiction, including other video games like 2010's BioShock Infinite. Take-Two is accusing Pinkerton of trying to profit off of Red Dead Redemption 2's astounding success. Take-Two went ahead and said that "[h]istorical fiction—television, movies, plays, books, and games—would suffer greatly if trademark claims like [Pinkerton's] could even possibly succeed... [Pinkerton] cannot use trademark law to own the past."
Take-Two even cited the critical acclaim garnered by Red Dead Redemption 2, including a review published for the Audubon Society praising its accurate portrayal of bird wildlife.
In Red Dead Redemption 2, players are part of the outlaw Dutch van der Linde's gang as they try and evade the Pinkertons who are quickly closing in on their trail. The Pinkerton Detective Agency was a real-life private securities agency historically associated with their anti-union activities, which included working for private companies to break up strikes. The agency was acquired by Securitas AB in 2003.
For more on how to evade the Pinkertons check out our Red Dead Redemption 2 guide for tips and walkthroughs.