Kevin Butler Actor Seen Near Wii Console... Sony Takes Him to Court
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Some of you may remember a news article that we posted around a month ago that starred fictional Sony VP Kevin Butler, which we did so with tongue firmly in cheek. We highlighted a Bridgestone tyre advert in which the actor who plays the character, his real name is Jerry Lambert, was seen near a Nintendo Wii, possibly causing indignation among a minority of dedicated Sony fans. As an actor doing a job it was a slightly awkward situation, but surely no sensible individual could see that seriously as "Kevin Butler plays a Wii", right?
It seems that Sony has seen it exactly that way, allowing concerns about branding to override sanity: it's taken Jerry Lambert's production company and Bridgestone to court. This is despite Bridgestone actually removing the original trailer from sites such as YouTube, and replacing it with a version that doesn't feature the comedic actor. Here's what Sony has said in a statement to Kotaku.
Sony Computer Entertainment America filed a law suit against Bridgestone and Wildcat Creek, Inc. on September 11. The claims are based on violations of the Lanham Act, misappropriation, breach of contract and tortious interference with a contractual relationship. We invested significant resources in bringing the Kevin Butler character to life and he's become an iconic personality directly associated with PlayStation products over the years. Use of the Kevin Butler character to sell products other than those from PlayStation misappropriates Sony's intellectual property, creates confusion in the market and causes damage to Sony.
While we understand the value companies place in marketing imagery, it still seems slightly incredible that Jerry Lambert being seen near a rival's system constitutes a misappropriation of Sony's intellectual property, especially when he's clearly not playing the Kevin Butler character. This court case has been rumbling for a few weeks, meanwhile, with Eurogamer reporting that after being "close to agreement" back on 26th September, Sony now has until 12th October to withdraw the motion or proceed to a hearing.
Although it's not ideal for a face recognisable to Sony gamers to be seen enjoying a game on Wii, we can't help but feel that this represents litigious madness. Do you agree with Sony in suing the actor's representatives and Bridgestone, or do you think the company's lost its grip?