In a lawsuit that provides a fascinating glimpse into just how broad intellectual property rights have become, video game maker Electronic Arts (EA) has filed a preemptive lawsuit against US arms maker Textron Inc, who is seeking to compel them to remove attack helicopters from their video games.
The helicopters at issue include the V-22 Osprey, the AH-1Z Viper, and the UH-1Y Venom, which are manufactured by Textron subsidiary Bell Helicopter. They were developed for the US military however, and with US military funding.
And therein lies the rub. Textron is claiming it holds the “trademark” to the various weapons of war it manufactures for the US military, but the military has issued countless images of these vehicles, as well as data regarding them, and this is all in the public domain.
The legal question then, is if digital representations of a helicopter which are based on public domain information and images can be “trademarked” by the company that happened to make the helicopter for the military. Needless to say both companies have very different answers for this.