Sony Sues Actor over Kevin Butler Character

Kevin Butler may once have been the face of Sony's PlayStation 3, PlayStation Network and the PSP platform as the fictitious Vice President of various made-up departments within the company division. But apparently Sony has decided to sue the man (actor Jerry Lamber) that plays Kevin Butler and his company – advertising firm Wildcat Creek – over the Kevin Butler IP. Sony claims that Wildcat used the character in an advertising campaign for Bridgestone Tires, with a "Butler-type character" wearing a lab coat testing out Mario Kart Wii.

"Sony Computer Entertainment America filed a lawsuit against Bridgestone and Wildcat Creek, Inc on September 11th," SCEA’s senior director of corporate communications Dan Race told VentureBeat. "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," he continued. "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 case goes, but it seems unlikely that a court would agree that Jerry Lamber is not allowed to make a living as an actor if the ad in question might have game-related elements as part of it.

We'll continue to follow this story as it develops…

Source: MCV

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  1. 0
    MechaTama31 says:

    Or imagine every studio that ever made a movie with Samuel L Jackson in it suing every other studio that made a movie with Samuel L Jackson in it.  They would at least have a better case for it being the same character.

  2. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    The basis of the suit is that, by the actor being in the Bridgestone commercial, Bridgestone was actually using Kevin Butler, solely because they used the same actor.  Lambert's character in the Bridgestone commercial had no name, didn't say much of anything, and I don't recall any Kevin Butler commercials featuring him with a labcoat.  As such, they really have nothing to claim they used the character on other than the actor himself.

    Sony may own Kevin Butler, but it doesn't own the looks of the actor who portrayed him.  If that were true, any ad featuring a live person would mean the entity that owned that ad owned the look of the actors in them.  Imagine Blizzard being sued by CBS and Paramount Pictures over Blizzard's use of William Shatner in a commercial, just because CBS and Paramount own Captain Kirk.

  3. 0
    Hevach says:

    He's not Kevin Butler, though. He's Jerry Lambert. This would be like Taco Bell's advertising firm reusing the Chihuahua to sell hamburgers.

    Which actually brings me to why I still think they still might lose. Advertisers like to keep rights to their characters as sort of job security. Getting rid of the advertiser then means losing or paying through the nose to keep the characters that have become associated with your brand.

    Also, I feel it's really necessary to point out they're not suing the guy as an actor. They're not even suing him at all, if their statement is accurate, they're suing a company of which he is the president. He doesn't make his living as an actor, he makes his living as the president of a marketing firm.

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