Millions of gamers have been entertained by fictitious Sony executive Kevin Butler. The character has been used in dozens of fantastic PlayStation commercials and viral videos. It looks like the hilarious reign of Butler is over and will end in a legal squabble. Sony Computer Entertainment America has filed suit against Bridgestone Americas and Wildcat Creek, Inc. The president of Wildcat Creek is Jerry Lambert, the actor that portrays Kevin Butler.
The lawsuit is over a series of Bridgestone commercials. Lambert can be seen in the commercials and promotional materials, some of which feature the Nintendo Wii. Obviously Sony isn’t keen on having someone that is associated with its console seen with a competing system. VentureBeat received the following statement from Sony Computer Entertainment America’s Dan Race:
Sony Computer Entertainment America filed a lawsuit 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.
It will be interesting to see how this pans out. I will guess that Bridgestone and Wildcat Creek will claim that Lambert is playing a character that has nothing to do with Kevin Butler. Sony will claim that some consumers will be confused by Lambert appearing in commercials that use the Nintendo Wii as a prize; the argument is that many people only know Lambert as Kevin Butler and are not familiar with his other roles. Without knowing the details of Lambert’s contract and what kind of non-compete clauses in contains, it’s impossible to say (but it’s fun to speculate).
What do you think of Sony vs. Bridgestone and Wildcat Creek? On a surface level, do you think Sony has a case? Will you miss Kevin Butler hocking PlayStation goods?