Sony has sued the actor who was previously named the “face of PlayStation” for appearing in an ad that also features the Nintendo Wii.
Fifty-five-year-old Jerry Lambert, who has appeared in promotional videos for Sony as Sony’s fictional “Vice President of everything” named Kevin Butler, appeared in an ad for Bridgestone in September.
As an actor, it would be considered normal for Lambert to appear in television ads.
The problem with the Bridgestone ad was that it was also effectively also endorsing the Nintendo Wii as part of a promotion for buyers of four sets of tires.
As part of the promotion, every customer who bought four tires get a chance to win a Nintendo Wii or a $70 card.
According to reports from Kotaku, Sony has launched a legal complaint against Bridgestone and Wildcat Creek Inc.
Wildcat Creek Inc. is helmed by Lambert who founded it in 2007, most likely to manage his business as an actor.
Sony sued Lambert and Bridgestone back in September 11 because, “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,” Sony has told Kotaku.
In another report, Kotaku posted a full statement sent by Sony which reads:
“Sony Computer Entertainment America filed a law suit 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.”
Actors and actresses recruited for advertisements usually have contracts which forbid them to promote products of competitors sometimes even after the actor or actress has finished actively promoting a product.
A clause like this could be included in the contract Sony has with Lambert, an actor who played Kevin Butler for years.
Interestingly, the Bridgestone ad was later altered to exclude Lambert.
Observers note that the commercial was probably reshot after the company and Lambert received notices from Sony.
Meanwhile, “It appears attempts have been made to settle the suit privately, but these have not proved decisive, with the court ordering that both parties commit one way or another to a formal hearing by October 12,” Kotaku says.