Sony Sues Kevin Butler for Advertising the Wii, Tires

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Sony Sues Kevin Butler for Advertising the Wii, Tires

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Actor Jerry Lambert and his production company are facing a lawsuit from former customer, Sony.

One of Sony's smarter decisions of this generation was to move away from its traditionally weird, terrifying and controversial advertisements in favor of the charmingly self-deprecating humor of Jerry Lambert as satirical exec, Kevin Butler.

Now it turns out Sony is suing Lambert, his production company, Wildcat Creek Inc. and Bridgestone, after the actor played a very similar role in an advert for the tire company. The name Kevin Butler wasn't mentioned in the ad, which informs viewers that buying four tires could net them a $70 American Express reward card or a Nintendo Wii, but apparently Lambert's demeanor made someone at Sony think the company has a shot at a trademark infringement case. Bridgestone edited Butler from the ad, but Sony went ahead with the lawsuit anyway. Lambert has appeared in ads for Bridgestone before without incident, which seems to indicate it was the presence of the Nintendo Wii that attracted Sony's lawyer sharks.

"The claims are based on violations of the Lanham Act, misappropriation, breach of contract and tortious interference with a contractual relationship," Sony said in a statement issued to Kotaku.

"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."

You can see the original, unedited ad here.

Source: Eurogamer

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Looks like Kevin Butler is too iconic for his own good.

I guess Lambert will have Sony lawyers eyeing everything he does from now on - if they weren't already - at the risk that he might accidentally advertise something game related. Sucks to be him.

Apparently Kevin Butler is not allowed to leave his home without prior approval. If I was him I'd simply never work for Sony again.

Is Sony allergic to positive PR?
They seem to go out of their way to piss people off at an alarming frequency.

Oh hey.

Nice to know that when you enter a working relationship with Sony, they consider you their property.

I've been tempted to get a X-box 360 recently (Got a PS3, PSP, PS2 etc etc) and I couldn't put my finger on why I was having such an idea. Now I think I know where it's coming from, the stupidity of Sony is getting to the point it's tarnishing their otherwise good products.

For the record I also have 2 gaming machines, so between them and the Playstations getting a X-Box is pretty redundant at this point.

BS lawsuit, the role he is playing is an anonymous lab assistant, not Sony Exec Kevin Butler. I do not believe Sony has a chance here.

If the actor's presentation of dialogue is similar (mannerisms, script, style of speech and dress) is as similar as Sony claims then Sony is in the right. I absolutely understand where they are coming from.

On the other hand Sony has supposedly invested money and time into creating a trademark that is now nothing but a burned bridge. Bridgestone acquiesced to their demand and stopped harming Sony's image making the filing of a lawsuit necessary. On the surface this seems like a bad decision. I wonder what is really going on or what information was not available for this article.

The real news here is Sony thinks we're all too stupid to tell when the same actor is playing a different role.

I never really thought those ads were funny anyway >.>

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There nothing more needed to be said, is there?

I fail to see how Sony could win this case though, as there is no mention of Kevin Butler in the Bridgestone commercial. Is MGM going to start sueing Daniel Craig whenever he stars in another movie that isnt James Bond?

As mentioned already, the only thing Sony is managing to do here is make sure that their best spokesman of all time never does another ad for them again.

Except for being played by the same actor, there is absolutely no way to confuse the characters. However, I will say: Sony and Kevin Butler probably have a gaming exclusivity right (like how a NASCAR driver can't have SONY and NINTENDO on the same vehicle). Wild uneducated guess: THAT's why they sued.

Lambert has appeared in ads for Bridgestone before without incident, which seems to indicate it was the presence of the Nintendo Wii that attracted Sony's lawyer sharks

I may be jumping the gun accusing others of jumping the gun but I sincerely doubt that Jerry Lambert is being sued because they thought that the character in that video was actually Kevin Butler. The breach of contract is part is likely that he can't give advertising to other gaming consoles. While this is indirectly advertising the Wii, it is still advertising the Wii.

What!? Kevin Butler doesn't like playstation anymore?!
Then I don't either.

I'm trading in my ps3 and buying a wii to be like Kevin Butler.

DVS BSTrD:
The real news here is Sony thinks we're all too stupid to tell when the same actor is playing a different role.

Oh.
nevermind

Xan Krieger:
BS lawsuit, the role he is playing is an anonymous lab assistant, not Sony Exec Kevin Butler. I do not believe Sony has a chance here.

My thoughts exactly. I went in to watching that video thinking it would be something along the lines of "Oh hey guys, I'm Kevin Butler and these tires are great" or one of the other 'scientists' saying "it's sure great to have you here, Kevin Butler".

But no. It's an actor working to earn money to make ends meet. He played Firestone Scientist #4, probably didn't get all that much money for the part. Shame on Sony.

Denamic:
Is Sony allergic to positive PR?
They seem to go out of their way to piss people off at an alarming frequency.

Well, see, when Sony had their massive successes with the PSOne and 2, what had actually happened is that they sent one of their men back in time. While travelling to the past, this man met one of the Guardians, the ancient race of time-protecting gods. They had a long conversation, and Sony was warned that if they allowed their initial success to alter their company's standing fifty years from now, they would collapse horrifically and their firstborn children would be sacrificed.

And now Sony must cover up their success, amass a big enough fortune to fall back on, and drag their public image down to pre-timetravel levels.

*sniff sniff* I smell bullshit. Esp. since I watched the ad and it isn't anything like Sony's old Kevin Butler ads.

So wait, is the WWE going to sue all those pro-wrestlers that debuted in rival federations under different names but similar gimmicks? Because there is absolutely no difference between the two.

So.... is he getting sued for not changing his face? He barely had any dialogue!

What's that, Sony? It sounded like you said, "We come from a planet that does not have things like gratitude, a willingness to be reasonable, or a sense of fair play."

Expecting an actor to spend the rest of his life refusing roles that put bread on the table because he's afraid of stepping on your massive corporate toes is a dick move, guys.

Playstation Butler: it only does everything.

(including the Wii).

Fluoxetine:
So wait, is the WWE going to sue all those pro-wrestlers that debuted in rival federations under different names but similar gimmicks? Because there is absolutely no difference between the two.

Ummm...WWE HAS sued wrestlers that debuted in rival promotions for similar characters even with names changed. also, I'm not sure if you actually watch wrestling, but The former Dudley Boys aren't even allowed to wrestle wearing camo or glasses.

This is way too vague for Sony to win.

You can't have a lawsuit over someones "style".

Sony i really want to like you. I love the PS3. You're just making it so hard for me.

proving once again that Sony is run by idiots. It's no wonder they've deteriorated in the past ten years

Mumorpuger:
So.... is he getting sued for not changing his face? He barely had any dialogue!

Yeah, that's what I was just thinking. The way Sony made it sound like the ad showed him acting like he does in the Sony ads, but it didn't.

Maybe if there was more Kevin Butler, he wouldn't have been in the Bridgestone ads in the first place. Shame on Sony, THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS!

Seriously though, this is just a PR nightmare for Sony if you ask me. KB is a beloved face, and we love him not because of the dialog, but how it was presented...by the actor! Sony has no bright and cheery face in this lawsuit, and I doubt anyone even made the connection until they started blowing it up. I saw him in them and said, huh, is that Kevin Butler? And that was it, now I know it's him, and want him to beat Sony's ass...and it's a shame because I'm a PS3 man

Nope.

The characters have the same face. That's about it, really.

This probably won't end well for Sony. Nothing catastrophic, they'll either just drop it, or push it and not win.

If they do win, however, apparently Sony can own your face.

Aiddon:
proving once again that Sony is run by idiots. It's no wonder they've deteriorated in the past ten years

Deteriorated? They've done more or less the same thing with their new consoles as their old ones.

And to think if Sony had let this pass nobody would have ever commented on this and the Wii would have indirectly gotten free ad time via Sony themselves, Never mind the Damage this is doing to their image.

Meh, making waves. There is no such thing as bad publicity, as they say. They are morons. This doesn't stand a chance of being successful. Sony doesn't own the rights to what the actor looks like, and it sounds like his role was different enough that he isn't going to be mistaken for a faux CEO. Let them waste their money as they have very little good will to work with anymore.

Fappy:
I never really thought those ads were funny anyway >.>

^
this

they where more stupid then anything else

Denamic:
Is Sony allergic to positive PR?
They seem to go out of their way to piss people off at an alarming frequency.

No, if you missed the article you will notice that they are not "allergic" to PR, they just don't have any now-a-days.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/7.389266-Ex-PlayStation-PR-Man-Sony-Is-Sending-Titles-Out-to-Die

But yeah, that was most definitely NOT the same character, the Sony character is very authoritative, this guy is the definition of unprofessional.

It's like claiming that Qui Gon Jin was put in charge of a Naval ship when aliens attacked...... There are aliens in both films, but that doesn't make the character the same.

Wasn't this guy in Geico commercials playing some sort of out-of-touch executive before he started playing Kevin Butler?

Oh snap, they went all tortious interference with a contractual relationship on them!

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