Video Game Law Blog

August 09, 2006

We're all aware of the difficulties that Rock Star and Take Two have experienced in relation to GTA San Andreas, but this one takes the cake Rock Star was sued by an LA strip club for trade-mark infringement. The real-life PlayPen Gentlemen's Club claimed that by including a virtual strip club called the 'Pig Pen"? in GTA SA, Rock Star had harmed PlayPen's reputation and infringed its trade-mark. The judge, however, found that there was no infringement "? the virtual strip club in the game was 'artistically relevant"? and not "explicitly misleading"?. The PlayPen club apparently intends to appeal.

We discussed issues relating to the use of real-life settings in games back in July (see here ). This case deals with the same point "? by including real-life settings or locations (or ones that clearly are based on real-life locations), do game designers risk litigation like this? Does the increase in in-game advertising mean that game players are more likely to assume sponsorship or endorsement when they see real-life establishments featured in video games?  These are all interesting questions.  For now, the only conclusion we can draw is that Rock Star is probably relieved to have won a GTA battle.

Coverage at (Mercury News)