News Article

Sony and Kevin Butler Actor Settle Lawsuit Over Wii Appearance

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

No more Mario Kart Wii for Jerry Lambert

Last year we reported the peculiar news that Sony was taking 'Kevin Butler' actor Jerry Lambert to court over an appearance in a Bridgestone advert in which he was part of a Wii promotion. The Kevin Butler character was, for a significant period, the figurehead of Sony's advertising for PlayStation 3 and eventually Vita, before the ads stopped in favour of a different approach. Jerry Lambert is a comedic television actor who does his share of advertisements to pay the bills, yet this was a case of two separate jobs colliding.

Although Jerry Lambert wasn't 'playing' Kevin Butler in the advertisement with a promotion for Mario Kart Wii, his appearance prompted claims that gamers would associate him with the character and, therefore, cause consumer confusion damaging to Sony. While it was tempting to poke fun at the idea that the actor couldn't be anyone other than a fictional character in the presence of a gaming console — not without a face transplant, but that seems over the top — it seems that Sony has won its battle.

Jerry Lambert has settled the case with Sony and agreed that he won't appear in any promotions for "any other video game or computer entertainment system or video game company" for a period of two years. Once that period passes, there's a further two year period in which Lambert must give Sony notice of any potential appearances of that nature so Sony "can assess whether or not Lambert's intended performance violates [Sony's] rights in the Kevin Butler character".

It's worth noting that Bridgestone's dispute with Sony on this issue is ongoing. For Jerry Lambert, meanwhile, it seems he's destined to be 'Kevin Butler' in the video game world for a good while yet, even if he's not being paid for the privilege.

[via eurogamer.net]

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User Comments (53)

Shanksta

#2

Shanksta said:

That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. Then again in the legal system burglars can sue if they get hurt in your house whilst stealing so whatever.

Bass_X0

#3

Bass_X0 said:

Every six months your home or business will have to undergo an inspection to make sure it is safe for burglars attempting to break in without harm. Failure to do so or failure at passing means a hefty fine. Passing the inspection rewards you with a large sign that states "THIS PROPERTY IS BURGLAR FRIENDLY" that will be required by law to be visible at all times.

AVahne

#5

AVahne said:

Feeling sorry for him again. He really IS Sony's slave, their property, career-wise.

jkgatling

#8

jkgatling said:

and sony decides to shoot themselves in the foot yet again... whoever decides over Sonys public image should really get fired

Jaz007

#10

Jaz007 said:

How is not working on video game commercials slavery or preventing him from earning a living? Sony having someone who did countless playstation ads not promote Nintendo or X-box escially since they are in direct competition with them or another video game maker without coming across as Kevin Butler which is kind of hard and not at all for a period of time after working with Sony seems perfectly reasonable to me. He also should be able to find work non video game work without him or his family starving.

ultraraichu

#11

ultraraichu said:

That a nice hot brand you got to label your product Sony.
But seriously I hope he don't end up like Al Lewis aka grandpa from "The Munster".

Hyperstar96

#12

Hyperstar96 said:

rolls eyes
Their contact ended. Lambert was allowed to do whatever he wanted with whichever company he wanted, yet Sony was too butthurt to accept that. And they WON.

Boo_Buster

#13

Boo_Buster said:

And this all boils down to Sony's jealousy of Nintendo. I can guarantee that is fact. Nintendo is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Sony's Antonio Salieri. Sony started because of jealousy and anger and they continue that tradition of taking Nintendo's innovative hardware ideas. Granted, they do make them better... but creating ones own unique design is so much more admirable than copying, pasting and touching up. Having said that, I do enjoy some of Sony's games and have owned every Sony console. I just don't agree with their morals. I have none myself though ;)

Tantan

#14

Tantan said:

I think it is so hilarious that this happened. After all the Nintendo bashing they had their face play a Wii and loving every second of it. Usually they say it about fanboys but Sony was so butt hurt over this LOL

TwilightV

#15

TwilightV said:

Well that's another reason I don't support Sony. One can only wonder what else they'll do damage their "image".

GumbyX84

#16

GumbyX84 said:

Ya. That's messed up. 9 out of 10 he agreed to this ridiculous settlement because he didn't have the funds/will to keep fighting it. I know its not going to happen, but I wish there would be a public backlash at Sony for this.
=

ajcismo

#18

ajcismo said:

No competition clauses are common in the entertainment biz for working actors and musicians. I spent a few years working as a musician for 6 Flags, and we could not audition and/or work for a competitor (ie: Disney) during our contracted time and for a brief time afterwards. Mr. Lambert's agent is probably in a little hot water as well for letting this slip by. Sucks, and I don't agree with it, but its something that happens and its unfortunate that his career has to take a hit because of it.

Boo_Buster

#19

Boo_Buster said:

@ajcismo Sell out, eh? ;) As a musician myself I would never work for anyone but myself. I have many different abilities though so it's not like I'm a starving artist a.k.a I can see why some people might get to the point of "I just have to make some money".

ajcismo

#20

ajcismo said:

@Boo_Buster
HA! It was in the 90's right out of college (degree in music performance) and probably the best summer-ish job ever (april-late september). We used to joke all the time about going "corporate" and being sell-outs, and then we'd cash our paychecks and hang out with the girls at the park. The dough to blow on N64 games had to come from somewhere too. I miss my 20s.

the_shpydar

#21

the_shpydar said:

I love how people magically become experts on contract law when they read stories like this. :P

Boo_Buster

#23

Boo_Buster said:

@ajcismo lol I was just pretending to be a cocky musical person, my bad. You have to get paid! I hated the music scene, so many arrogant inch brained morons.

SCAR392

#24

SCAR392 said:

It's pretty interesting. They called him up specifically to do the Wii promotion I'm guessing, because of his 'comedic' value, because of the Sony commercials. This guy has job security with Sony I guess, and being their butler will get him food.

Sanquine

#27

Sanquine said:

@Boo_Buster Aw please for the love of god. You think a company is some identity who wants to conquer the world. Yes, master! All Hail sony ROFL.

This is why i own all consoles. I prefer sony but Nintendo is close second.
Only microsoft with the xbox... The console with no face

FFL2and3rocks

#28

FFL2and3rocks said:

I wonder how many children asked for a Sony Wii for Christmas because this commercial confused them.

Gamesake

#29

Gamesake said:

Don't worry about consumer confusion, Sony. Any consumers in the market for Playstations are already confused.

Tasuki

#31

Tasuki said:

Geez Sony why dont you just shove a leash but the poor guys butt? He did his work for you you moved on with another angle let him do the same. He should sue Sony saying that playing the Kevin Butler character was damaging to his career.

WesCash

#33

WesCash said:

It's a shame that Sony pursued the lawsuit. Being legal doesn't make it right.
Is it too much to ask for companies to show some decency?
I get that they are in the business of making money, but you attract more flies with honey than vinegar.

Zombie_Barioth

#36

Zombie_Barioth said:

Its sad that Sony really felt the need to go this far over an old commercial staring an actor who hasn't actually stared in a Sony commercial in a long time. Do they seriously think anyone whos not a young child doesn't understand that most actors play different roles or characters?

I feel sorry for him for having to go through all that, its so sad how lawsuits have become then go-to solution for everything now a days.

theblackdragonAdmin

#38

theblackdragon said:

@grimbldoo: The problem is that we don't know what exactly was in his contract. Sure, we can say it expired beforehand, but three days is not enough time for him to be handed a script, film a commercial, then have that commercial go straight to air; surely that kind of thing takes weeks to happen. There may have been something in his contract saying that he would have to get Sony's approval before undertaking any projects that could compromise the 'Kevin Butler' character while under contract... the only people who know what was in that contract for sure are the courts and the people involved, and the fact that Lambert has chosen to settle (and give away such meaty concessions in the process) says quite a bit about their legal footing here, I'm afraid, however silly it seems to us on the outside looking in.

Jaz007

#41

Jaz007 said:

Another thing is that he may not have been allowed to do any work on making something that promotes a competitor while under contract.

Trikeboy

#42

Trikeboy said:

Sony really are putting themselves in a bad light here. Though, I said that in the days after Lik Sang's closure. I would like to point out something though, at the end of the 16 bit era, Nintendo had a big head and they did some stupid things, the result, they lost customers. Sony are heading down the same path.

Molotov

#43

Molotov said:

I Think That Was A Extremely Stupid Move On Lamberts Side, Not Sonys. I Wouldve Been Mighty Pissed Off After (For Once) Creating A Memorable Sony Character And Then Having It Thrown In The WInd By My Main Rival. Nah Nah Nah Serves Your Right Dude You Shouldve DOne A Mario Video In 2020 Or So.

Mike1

#44

Mike1 said:

Sony looks like a real bunch of douchbags here. Who cares if this guy appears in other commercials for another company? He isn't on Sony's payroll anymore, so he should be able to do what he wants. If Sony doesn't want him to do anyother commercials, then pay the guy!

TechnoEA

#45

TechnoEA said:

No person calls themselves a Gamer and has loyalty to one company. We play Games despite the system that they are on, we don't play games BECAUSE of the system they are on.

We don't know what was in the contract so, we can only assume and speculate, as a few of the others have been saying.

sinalefa

#46

sinalefa said:

I find this ridiculous because the ad was for Bridgestone, not for Wii. I know they were offering a Wii as a prize, but that does not mean that Nintendo was involved. The idea was for people to buy tires, not a console.

Still, no wonder that Sony may have made the contract so they got the bigger benefit, as this lawsuit seems to prove. Acting as a bully, even if you are legally entitled to do so, will not do wonders to your public image.

UnrealDan

#48

UnrealDan said:

Wow Sony, really?? This is why I've never liked Sony. Nintendo and Microsoft FTW!

Squid

#50

Squid said:

I don't think it's really a big deal, so long as Sony actually intends to use him again and/or at least pay him something (?) during that period.

Extremist

#51

Extremist said:

I totally get Sony on this one. They've spent tons of money on this and built a recognizable character connected to Sony. Jerry Lambert is free to star in whatever commercials he like, just not for video games since he's so connected with the "Kevin Butler"-character.

He's probably earned a good deal of cash over the years from Sony so it's pretty illoyal starring in a similar role for a competing product/company. And it's obvious Bridgestone/Nintendo wanted to play on this connection with the "Kevin Butler"-character, otherwise they could have chosen any actor on the planet for the role in that commercial.

Araknie

#53

Araknie said:

Sony pratically said that he couldn't work for 4 years and they could profit in that time of the character with the material they already have.
WOW, i can't believe they gave away with that, -7 in Charisma for Sony.

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