Bridgestone Responds to Sony's "Kevin Butler" Lawsuit
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
All because of a game of Mario Kart Wii
Yesterday we picked up on the news of an ongoing court case between Sony and the actor behind Kevin Butler or, to be completely accurate, the actor's production company and Bridgestone. Sony's basic complaint was that the actor Jerry Lambert, so commonly known for his work as fictional Sony executive Kevin Butler, was so well known as a representative for PS3 in particular that it violated a range of contract and trademark laws for him to appear in an advert promoting Wii.
After the initial reaction to the news of the lawsuit, further details are coming to light. For one thing, The Hollywood Reporter has looked into details and discovered that Jerry Lambert did have an exclusivity agreement to not promote products rivalling Sony's systems, but that it expired three days before the infamous Bridgestone advert first aired. Sony's contention is that Lambert first appeared in a Bridgestone advert in February 2012, so is citing that to get around the issue of the expired exclusivity contract. Bridgestone is naturally contesting this, specifically on the grounds that it's not Kevin Butler in the advert in any case, but merely the actor in a different role.
Mr. Lambert is one of the actors who appeared in the commercial as a Bridgestone engineer. Bridgestone denies that 'Kevin Butler' appears in the Bridgestone commercial discussed herein and thus denies that he speaks or does anything whatsoever in the commercial.
What is clear is that Lambert wasn't seen in the vicinity of a Wii until after the exclusivity ended — it wasn't actually a Wii advert, but highlighting a promotion to receive a Wii — but that lawyers will argue over contracts and the relevance of Lambert starting with Bridgestone before the Sony deal ended. Aside from legal complexities, the basic argument seems to ultimately be about whether Jerry Lambert is inextricably linked to the Kevin Butler character, and whether appearing near a Wii game damages Sony in a meaningful way. There seems to be something in it for Sony, as Bridgestone did after all pull down the offending advert after it realised what was happening, meaning it might not be as confident in its case as lawyer-bravado suggests.
All because of a deal to get a free Wii system; the madness continues.