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Author Topic: Sony Sues Kevin Butler (aka Jerry Lambert)  (Read 538 times)
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CeeKay
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« on: October 08, 2012, 01:50:35 AM »

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The PlayStation spokesperson and faux-executive Kevin Butler is in trouble with Sony.

On September 11, Sony Computer Entertainment America filed a lawsuit against the Bridgestone Tires company and Wildcat Creek, Inc advertising firm.

Actor Jerry Lambert, who plays the hilarious and arrogant Kevin Butler character in PlayStation commercials, is the president of Wildcat Creek according to Corporationwiki.com. SCEA claims that Bridgestone and Lambert violated one of Sony’s intellectual properties. Which one? Well, Kevin Butler.

In February of this year, Lambert began to appear in a series of Bridgestone promotions.

Bridgestone and Wildcat Creek are now running a “GameOn” promotion where customers can get a $70 American Express gift card or a Nintendo Wii console. A recent ad for this promotion — which the official Bridgestone YouTube account has removed from the video-sharing site — featured Lambert in a white lab coat appearing with the Nintendo console and a running copy of Mario Kart Wii.

http://venturebeat.com/2012/10/06/sony-sues-kevin-butler/

Sony clarified the lawsuit:

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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.

not being an expert in legalese I'm figuring they've got him under some non-compete agreement and not just suing him because the looks like the character.  it doesn't look like they even mentioned his name.
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Teggy
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2012, 03:18:09 AM »

They don't mention his name and he's just one person in the commercial (and there are other commercials he is in for Bridgestone that don't involve games). If they think they now own his face they are off their rocker and this lawsuit makes them look pretty moronic.
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2012, 02:23:05 PM »

Being an actor, I can tell you that exclusivity contracts are very specific about stuff like this.  He's basically a mascot, and, yes, by contract, they own his likeness in specific categories.

I imagine that the tire company would be out of exclusivity (though it depends on how across-the-board his contract was), but the second another video game company came into play, it was a breach.

The ad company very likely knew exactly what they were doing, too.  Maybe they thought they'd found a loophole.  Maybe they did, even.  But if Sony can prove those actions, they may still have a case.

BTW, I saw the ad online, and, with the fact that they were using Mario Kart, I thought it was from before he was "Kevin Butler".
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 02:30:21 PM by Bullwinkle » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2012, 03:37:57 PM »

I haven't seen the ad, but supposedly the actor acts in a very Kevin Butler-like way while advertising for a direct competitor of Sony. If that is true, it's no wonder they're reacting.
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« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2012, 03:55:38 PM »

Quote from: TiLT on October 08, 2012, 03:37:57 PM

I haven't seen the ad, but supposedly the actor acts in a very Kevin Butler-like way while advertising for a direct competitor of Sony. If that is true, it's no wonder they're reacting.

I can't find the ad online anymore, but it didn't come off as the same character to me.  He's more goofy, IIRC.  Plus, he's not even the lead in the commercial.

It seems he's going to be edited out of the commercial now, too.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 03:58:36 PM by Bullwinkle » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2012, 04:51:14 PM »

Quote from: Bullwinkle on October 08, 2012, 03:55:38 PM

Quote from: TiLT on October 08, 2012, 03:37:57 PM

I haven't seen the ad, but supposedly the actor acts in a very Kevin Butler-like way while advertising for a direct competitor of Sony. If that is true, it's no wonder they're reacting.

I can't find the ad online anymore, but it didn't come off as the same character to me.  He's more goofy, IIRC.  Plus, he's not even the lead in the commercial.

It seems he's going to be edited out of the commercial now, too.
Yeah they apparently digitally removed the actor from the commercial, which I find hysterical and frightening at the same time.  paranoid It's apparently reached the point where you can just digitally remove somebody's existence in video if it offends you.

My big question is, if the guy had been holding a PS3-style controller in the ad, would Sony then have paid it no attention? I mean, it's an ad for tires, and he's just goofing off in the background. They seem to be saying that the actor is permanently attached to the Kevin Butler character and any commercial work he does will be seen as such. Or is it only if he has a console controller in his hand?
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« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2012, 07:46:50 PM »

Quote from: Blackjack on October 11, 2012, 04:51:14 PM

Quote from: Bullwinkle on October 08, 2012, 03:55:38 PM

Quote from: TiLT on October 08, 2012, 03:37:57 PM

I haven't seen the ad, but supposedly the actor acts in a very Kevin Butler-like way while advertising for a direct competitor of Sony. If that is true, it's no wonder they're reacting.

I can't find the ad online anymore, but it didn't come off as the same character to me.  He's more goofy, IIRC.  Plus, he's not even the lead in the commercial.

It seems he's going to be edited out of the commercial now, too.
Yeah they apparently digitally removed the actor from the commercial, which I find hysterical and frightening at the same time.  paranoid It's apparently reached the point where you can just digitally remove somebody's existence in video if it offends you.

My big question is, if the guy had been holding a PS3-style controller in the ad, would Sony then have paid it no attention? I mean, it's an ad for tires, and he's just goofing off in the background. They seem to be saying that the actor is permanently attached to the Kevin Butler character and any commercial work he does will be seen as such. Or is it only if he has a console controller in his hand?

Well, in the ad, the tire company was running a promotion where you'd get a free Wii, and he was talking about how awesome Mario Kart is.  So it was a little specific.

If you do a commercial, your contract usually keeps you from doing any other commercials in the same category for a period of time.  If you do a cough medicine commercial, for example, you can't do another cold remedy commercial.  That's obvious, of course.  However, if you're involved in a larger campaign, the restrictions are much more limiting.

I worked with the Verizon Wireless guy a couple of times, and apart from the words "Can you hear me now" having lost all context and meaning from repetition (a Verizon person had to be on hand to make sure it was coming out correctly), it seemed the biggest change for him was not really being able to do anything else, acting-wise, apart from some short films.  Of course, he was also talking about his house on the water in Connecticut, so it's probably okay for the most part.
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