Sony and Kevin Butler, A Dysfunctional Family
There is intrigue and drama within the familial relationship of Sony and Kevin Butler. Kevin Butler is a character, played by actor Jerry Lambert, created by Sony to star in many of their commercials. He often acts as the Vice-President of various departments within Sony that don’t really exist. To date, the commercials with Kevin Butler have remained very popular and influential due to his arrogant and funny personality. However it seems Lambert, who is the CEO of advertising firm Wildcat Creek, has been using the Kevin Butler character for his own personal gain, in commercials for both Wildcat and Bridgestone Tires. In one of the recent commercials, Kevin Butler is even seen promoting the Wii in a frantic game of Mario Kart! Sony has decided to sue Wildcat and Bridgestone for causing damage to Sony with one of their own Intellectual Properties.
This is what Sony asserted:
“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.”
So, how would Bridgestone respond to Sony? The question that is to be determined is whether Lambert was considered to be appearing within the commercial as himself, the actor, or as the Kevin Butler character that he so often is identified with. Here’s how they defended themselves to the Hollywood Reporter:
“Mr. Lambert is one of the actors who appeared in the commercial as a Bridgestone engineer,” say the defendant. “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.”
Ultimately, it will be up to a court-of-law to determine whether viewers would associate the actor in as Kevin Butler in a video game commercial.