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Bell, EA Fight Over Aircraft Imagery

Publication Date: 
January 17, 2012
Amarillo Globe-News
Bobby Cervantes

Professor Mark Lemley spoke with Bobby Cervantes of Amarillo Globe-News on the copyright battle between Bell Helicopter and Electronic Arts, a video game corporation that has used depictions of Bell helicopters in one of its games.

Bell Helicopter and video game giant Electronic Arts are embroiled in a legal battle in a California federal court over whether EA can use images of the V-22 Osprey and other Bell-made aircraft in a popular video game.

Bell’s parent company, Textron Inc., is asking a federal judge to decide whether EA’s depictions of the V-22, the UH-1Y and the AH-1Z attack copter in “Battlefield 3” violate Bell’s trademark protections.


Mark A. Lemley, a Stanford Law School professor, said copyright laws are supposed to prevent consumer confusion, which is not in jeopardy in this case.

"In my view, this is a classic example of overreaching by the trademark owner Bell/Textron," Lemley said. "There is no chance whatsoever that consumers will think Bell made the EA game because its helicopters are depicted in it."

Lemley, who focuses on intellectual property law, said the Textron’s allegations are baseless in court.

"Bell is trying to get paid simply because its products are depicted, and the law doesn't permit that," Lemley said.