Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Sony Sues its' Own Fake Director of Stuff

And you probably thought I was done with the dumb tag this week ... not a chance in hell.

Alright, bear with me here, because this is going to get a little strange, and dumb, and strangedumb. You might remember a series of ads Sony ran starring Jerry Lambert as Kevin Butler. Even if you don't remember then this should be enough to jog your memory if you've ever seen any of the ads:

Anyways, that's the character Kevin Butler, and even though he hasn't appeared in a Sony ad for quite some time, that didn't stop the company from having a conniption from the actor, Jerry Lambert, appearing in an advertisement for a Bridgestone/Nintendo cross promotion while enjoying a round of Mario Kart on the Nintendo Wii.

Basically, Sony alleges that Lambert is playing the Kevin Butler character in the commercial linked above, even though the character's name is never mentioned and that aside from having Kevin's likeness (obviously as they are both played by the same actor) there's nothing to really point out that this is the exact same character that has played a major part in Sony's ad campaign.

Still, despite this, Sony made the following claim:

"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."

There were actually a couple of stories, including the one I linked above to show the advertisement in question, that pointed out that it was a little strange to see a man whose likeness is so often associated with Sony products being shown enjoying a Nintendo system. However, these articles mostly pointed out that it was a quaint, if pointless bit of trivia for those that paid enough attention to care. The idea that Sony's reputation and sales could be damaged by a similar looking character appearing elsewhere is just a tad preposterous.

Bridgestone, for it's part, has removed footage of Lamber from the advertisement entirely. Wildcat Creek, the company which Lamber runs, will no doubt argue that while Sony may own the rights to the Kevin Butler character, that Lamber himself owns his likeness and is free to use said likeness in whatever ventures he deems appropriate.

This seems like another one of those kneejerk reaction sue cases that unfortunately tend to get blown entirely out of proportion. I'm hoping that this one gets settled before Sony embarrasses itself anymore than it already has over this.

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