As most gamers are aware, Sony has sued Bridgestone and the Wildcat Creek, Inc. advertising company for their use of "Kevin Butler" in a recent Bridgestone tire commercial.

They're claiming that the use of the KB character creates confusion on the part of the consumer, and Sony is also claiming breach of contract. But according to The Hollywood Reporter , Bridgestone is defending themselves by saying that in fact, they never used "Kevin Butler." Here's the company's statement concerning the lawsuit:

"Mr. Lambert is one of the actors who appeared in the commercial as a Bridgestone engineer. Bridgestone denies that 'Kevin Butler' appears in the Bridgestone commercial discussed herein and thus denies that he speaks or does anything whatsoever in the commercial."

Bridgestone also plans to make it plain that Sony never held any mark for "Kevin Butler," so it's clear the tire company is going to fight this. To the outsider, it sounds like a battle of semantics; Jerry Lambert is Kevin Butler and Kevin Butler is Jerry Lambert…although of course, one is fictional. This is the sort of thing that must drive lawyers totally nuts.

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Corvo
Corvo
8 years ago

But… KB is a badass. Why does bad things have to happen to such funny people… RIP Chris Farley

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

Farley sort of brought that on himself.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

Well it's totally open to interpretation, but I think the fact that they let him appear in an endorsement of a gaming system shows they knew what was up. You can't NOT know that creates a conflict of interest.

Bonampak
Bonampak
8 years ago

I wonder how Sony is going to go about this lawsuit in court.

They can't say that Lambert was advertising a product from their competition, because both Kaz Hirai and Howard Stringer publicly denied that the Wii or Nintendo were competition. Even Ben posted some editorials here saying pretty much the same thing.

The other thing that they could argue, is that Lambert was playing Kevin Butler in that ad. But that would be a hard one to prove. Since all actors have their own distinct mannerisms and traits. Like Christopher Walken or Sean Connery.

Sony would need to prove that Jerry Lambert turns into Kevin butler whenever he tries to be funny or amusing.


Last edited by Bonampak on 10/10/2012 12:54:26 PM

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

To say that Wii isn't a direct competitor is really a conceptual imagining, as far as the market is concerned any two video game consoles ARE competitors no matter what anyone says.

SirLoin of Beef
SirLoin of Beef
8 years ago

While that might be the case, if someone at Sony did say such a thing, Lambert's lawyers will have a good defense as to why their client isn't in violation of the contract.

Akuma_
Akuma_
8 years ago

So wait, are Sony saying that Lambert can't appear in any TV commercials besides their own?

BigT_1980
BigT_1980
8 years ago

No Sony isn't saying Lambert can't appear in other commercials, Sony is stating he can't be in other commercials that promotes the competition. Bridgestone was promoting the Wii in an attempt to sell more tires.

firesoul453
firesoul453
8 years ago

Nope thats still not it.
Sony is saying bridgestone and the acting company had him use the kevin butler image.
And remember, their not suing him.

Bonampak
Bonampak
8 years ago

@firesoul453 – That makes no sense. What you're saying is that Sony owns Jerry Lambert's face. The guy is an actor and he cannot change his face or how he looks like.

Lambert did a previous advert for Bridgestone that came out several months ago. Sony didn't sue anyone for that one.

They only sued when Lambert was featured in a commercial promoting the Wii. That's a big hint right there as to why the lawsuit was issued.

Simcoe
Simcoe
8 years ago

If you read the linked article, it states that this particular commercial first aired just three days after Sony and Wildcat Creek's contract expired. Sony also claims that their contract contained an exclusivity clause which should have prevented Mr. Lambert from providing his services or his likeness to promote competing gaming system manufacturers.

firesoul453
firesoul453
8 years ago

No thats not what I'm saying at all.
Sony is claiming that bridgestone and the acting company purposly had him portray "kevin butler" and they think they have enough proof to prove it in court apparently.
They're not suing the actual actor and they're not specifically trying to limit his acting things.
It has a lot more to do with the face, its the whole character.
Kevin butler is sony's intelectual property.

Imagine if sony had someone who was clearly pretending to be link, even if it didn't look or sound like link, but it was obvious to everyone who watch it, that it was suppose to be link.

I'm not saying I agree with sony's actions, but sony claims they can prove that they were trying to use their "kevin butler" character.

SmokeyPSD
SmokeyPSD
8 years ago

Bulldust. It was conscious casting for a gaming promotion for a competitor. I think it's pretty clear they were drawing on Sony's persona.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

lol @ balldust. Got some of that.

tes37
tes37
8 years ago

Balldust, World? What is that? Powdered mountain oysters.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

It's what collects on your sack when you're going through a dry spell with the ladies.

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
8 years ago

I'm sure that anybody who's know knows Sony's BK commercial had the same exact WTF moment as soon as I saw KB in a Bridgestone commercial that was prominently displaying a free Wii for anyone buying a set of their tires.

tes37
tes37
8 years ago

I had a similar reaction. As soon as I saw Jerry in the commercial, I thought hey there's Kevin Butler. Then I thought WTF, why is he promoting a Wii?

If there's nothing wrong with the commercial, where did it go? Unless they had to pull it because of the lawsuit, why aren't they showing it still?

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

Then Capital One and Holiday Inn should sue Sony. He played similar characters on their commercials first.

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
8 years ago

Maybe, but there weren't any gaming systems in those commercials.

wackazoa
wackazoa
8 years ago

Correction Ben….. this is the sort of thing that seems driven by lawyers.

Simcoe
Simcoe
8 years ago

Correction wackazoa…this article was by John! ūüėČ

Simcoe
Simcoe
8 years ago

Sony should never have let Mr. Lambert's contract expire…. I suppose Sony may have tried to extend their contract with Mr. Lambert but perhaps he didn't want to be known at Kevin Butler for the rest of acting days.

The referring article states that KB is a playable character in LittleBigPlanet Karting…it would be funny if he were to be in Playstation All-stars too! I wonder what his special move would be?

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
8 years ago

The trouble is though, that because he's a fictional character Sony owns the rights to, anyone that creates a character in the likeness of KB is treading on thin ice. Since Sony can include KB in a game they obviously own the rights to the likeness/appearance of KB.

I mean how many people who saw the Bridgestone commercial who had previously seen the Sony ones, said something like "Hey, I didn't know Kevin Butler worked for Bridgestone now." to themselves? I bet it's a lot. and if a significant number of people made that mistake, there's probably grounds for complaint since Bridgstone are effectively using the Kevin Butler character without permission.

SirLoin of Beef
SirLoin of Beef
8 years ago

So, in essence, his career as an actor is over unless he starts wearing crazy get-ups, etc.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

No. It means within his career as an actor, if he plays a character similar to Kevin Butler, he can't promote Sony Playstation's direct competition.

SirLoin of Beef
SirLoin of Beef
8 years ago

And Kevin Butler is a normal looking white dude with blonde hair wearing business casual clothing. Anything he does, unless he makes himself look crazy, is going to be similar to Kevin Butler as that is what Lambert looks like. Sony doesn't own the man's looks.

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
8 years ago

"We at Bridgestone deny that Kevin Butler appears in our commercials. Any resemblance – hairstyle, dress code, mannerisms, that sort of thing – between of one of the actors in our commercials and Kevin Butler is entirely coincidental. As is the fact that one of our actors who might bear a passing resemblance – in an entirely accidental and coincidental manner – to Kevin Butler is also promoting a video console as part of a promotion we are running. "

"Now, if you'll just turn your attention to this video presentation by our Director of Counter Claims, Mr K. De Butilear."

"Hello, here at Bridgstone we believe that video games are like tires. They're round, spin quickly and are subject to physical damage when misused by the buyer. We also believe that legal action is like tires. Both are poorly understood by the public, and both can last a long time before finally deflating in a burst of stale air. Take from that what you will…
…oh yes, I nearly forgot 'Pew Pew Pew!'. "

Jed
Jed
8 years ago

I can see why this ruffled Sony's feathers, but I don't think they have a very good chance of winning this. Lambert played Keven Butler, a Playstation executive. In the Bridgestone commercials he plays a nameless tire engineer. While he was playing a game on the wii in one of the commercials, it was not to promote the wii itself. Bridgestone is giving away wiis to promote their tires. At no time in any of the commercials was he referred to as "Kevin" or "Butler". They could argue that the character in the commercial looked and sounded and acted like KB, but Lambert looks, sounds, and acts pretty much the same way in every commercial he's ever been in. (At least from what I have seen, and I've seen a lot of his commercials)

And before you ask, no, I am not a lawyer or law student or anything like that. It's just what common sense tells me.

With that said, "Gitty up Deion".

Draguss
Draguss
8 years ago

Common sense isn't so common in legal matters. It depends mainly on the wording in his contract, I'd imagine.

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
8 years ago

IMHO….No, by playing the Wii, he's actually being seen as promoting that Wii

RobN
RobN
8 years ago

Whether or not they have a case depends a lot on what the actual contract language with Lambert was. If he signed a contract agreeing to never ever in his lifetime promote a Sony competitor, then they have a case. If his contract says he can do whatever he wants, including playing a character who changed his name and became a Nintendo executive, then they have no case.

Since the contract probably said something in between, there's room for interpretation – and since I doubt any of us have actually seen that contract, and it's the details that will determine the outcome of this suit, I'm not sure anybody's opinion on this is worth a damn. Including my own.