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Sony Sues Bridgestone For Use Of The Kevin Butler Character

PlayStation fans fell in love with the big KB. He seemed to have a really good thing going with Sony, and we all enjoyed his hilarious commercials.

But unfortunately, things have gone awry. As reported by GamesBeat, Sony is suing Bridgestone Tires and Wildcat Creek, Inc. advertising firm for a variety of reasons. The short version is that Sony just doesn't like the actor, Jerry Lambert, going over to Bridgestone when he sorta became the face of PlayStation.

They got an official statement from SCEA senior director of corporate communications Dan Race, which reads:

"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."

You hate to see stuff like this. You have to believe Lambert never believed he was doing anything wrong; at the same time, it's usually the job of agents and managers to clear new gigs before offering them to the talent. Me, I'm putting the blame squarely on Lambert's handlers but hey, who knows? Maybe he was well aware and just didn't care.

Tags: kevin butler, sony, bridgestone, playstation, kevin butler playstation

10/7/2012 9:35:18 PM John Shepard

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Comments (42 posts)

tes37
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 10:03:34 PM
Reply

It's a real shame that this has led to a lawsuit, but I don't blame Sony for the action they're taking. I was kind of shocked to see the character of Kevin Butler being used in association with a Wii promotion, even though it was a Bridgestone commercial.

All parties involved knew better than to do this, especially an advertising firm. It seems as if they were thumbing their noses at Sony whom I'm assuming will have the last laugh.

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Bonampak
Tuesday, October 09, 2012 @ 1:22:40 AM

What if Jerry Lambert (a.k.a. Kevin Butler) believed in what Kaz Hirai has said about both Nintendo and the Wii?

This is what Kaz Hirai said:

"It's difficult to talk about Nintendo, because we don't look at their console as being a competitor"

So if the Wii is not a competitor of Sony, then it does absolutely no harm to help promote it. Right? It would be like promoting any other product that is not competing against Sony's products. Like those Bridgetone tires that Lambert was also advertising.

Lambert maybe could use that as his defense.

I would hate to lose KB over all this.

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tes37
Tuesday, October 09, 2012 @ 3:36:32 PM

Sony said that they have a signed contract stating he can't endorse another gaming product. I read Sony's complaint and it sounds like they may have a good cause for this action. Even if the work portion of his contract has ended, the endorsement clause has not.

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ZettaiSeigi
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 10:16:08 PM
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My actual question is, why aren't we seeing any new Kevin Butler ads? I love those ads and they really connected with the core gamers. Bring him back Sony!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 11:04:47 PM

I assumed his contract was up and they didn't renew it, so I wonder as well.

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shadowpal2
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 11:49:52 PM

THIS.

And let's be honest here folks - those KB ads certainly helped to ship PS3s. Sure PS3s are selling right now...but they aren't selling at the rate they used to with KB's punch.

With all these games coming up this holiday, why the hell can't he make the appearance. Seriously Sony's marketing is just...ugh...

And according to an IGN article...Sony's also suing Lambert as well. Ughh...Why do good things have to have such bad endings...

Last edited by shadowpal2 on 10/7/2012 11:55:14 PM

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AcHiLLiA
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 12:20:20 PM

I guess you go wherever there is more offer on the table.

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556pineapple
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 10:26:33 PM
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I understand Sony's side to this, especially if there was a breach of contract. However, Jerry Lambert wasn't in the Kevin Butler character, was he? He's also an actor, and to keep in work, he's going to need to take jobs. They can't expect him to get plastic surgery, right? I have a hard time believing Sony can win this, unless there was a breach of contract, or they can prove a strong likelihood of confusion.

Edit: I guess that Intellectual Property class I'm taking has some practical applications after all!

Last edited by 556pineapple on 10/7/2012 10:27:30 PM

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tes37
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 10:50:40 PM

He would've been fine if there wasn't a Wii used in the commercial. Usually, contracts stipulate how many years you would need to wait before endorsing the competitions product.

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556pineapple
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 10:58:43 PM

Ah, yeah. Given that fact, it seems Sony has a pretty decent chance now.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 11:05:57 PM

I only saw the commercial once but if the character the actor played in the Wii promotion was similar enough to Kevin Butler then they've got a case.

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bigrailer19
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 10:56:01 PM
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I didn't realize that was KB in those commercials. I just thought it was the same guy. So don't see the issue really unless he actually was portraying the same character.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 11:07:03 PM

I think the argument will be he was embodying that character even without overtly claiming to be "Kevin Butler"

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FatherSun
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 11:21:13 PM

Some key words and points in this dispute would be "LIKENESS" And promotion of a competing company or product perhaps within a specified timeframe.

If his contract was up I wonder why it was not renewed. He gave the PlayStation Brand the breath of fresh air it needed. He was considered a mascot by some.

Maybe Sony decided it was time for a change. Someday we will know. Lambert seems like the type to open his mouth so let's see where this goes.

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bigrailer19
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 12:51:43 AM

Good points. I see the issue. It had crossed my mind at one time that there was some similarities, but again I didn't remember anything pointing towards the character of KB.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 11:08:30 PM
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He was a lot of fun and I hope Jerry Lambert doesn't get too much personal grief over this lawsuit which could seriously have merit, though I know some fanboys will just call Sony "butthurt".

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FatherSun
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 11:10:26 PM
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There is absolutely no way that Lambert did not see this coming. If he is the president of the advertising company then he should know better than to breach the contract he had with Sony. I cannot wait to the hear the real story behind this turn of events. If we ever do get those details that is. Who doesn't read the fine print these days?

This debate is simple. If the agreement was breached then Sony is right. If not then Sony is wasting its time and looks foolish in the process. Either way this is a mess.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 11:19:53 PM

He isn't the president of anything though, just an actor.

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FatherSun
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 11:23:37 PM

Supposedly he is the president of the advertising company that was contracted by Bridgestone. Wild Creek something.

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Cesar_ser_4
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 11:58:28 PM

World is right Fathasun. Butler isn't president of anything, He's vice president. Hehehe

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FatherSun
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 12:52:48 AM

Then he is the ACTING president of Wildcat Creek Inc. If the link below is to be believed.

www.corporationwiki.com/California/Sherman-Oaks/wildcat-creek-inc/44931717.aspx

If SONY and Lambert were to settle this could be turned around into an epic advertising campaign. Kevin Butler: Triple agent of Sony Corporate Espionage Division.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 1:55:14 AM

okay I didn't know that, maybe he's a bad president then :)

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Killa Tequilla
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 12:30:00 AM
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"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."

This couldn't be more true.

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Pandacastro
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 12:46:16 AM
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Hopefully this doesn't hurt Jerry Lambert's acting career.

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jugheadjones
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 3:26:57 AM
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It's just me, I'm sure, but what exactly is all the furor about "Kevin Butler"? Is he really all that popular? I have seen all the ads and I always thought they were stupid. I have talked about this with a ton of people in Home and none of them could give a pile of crap about him. I guess we are either missing something or just really out of touch. I just don't understand why his name keeps getting reported on the net like he is this juggernaut of a character. I understand the whole contract thing. I don't have any problem with Sony's actions. That's pretty much standard for contract litigation. I guess whether he goes to do Nintendo commercials, or disappears altogether, I really could care less.

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Highlander
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 10:39:35 AM

I see, so Jug Head can't see the relevance? Quelle suprise.

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FatherSun
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 12:53:20 PM

Are you in the US? I wonder if that is the disconnect here.

Butler as a character was big enough to draw this kind of attention. Either way a breach is a breach. It only has be proven. Such is the legal battlefield in the US.

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kraygen
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 4:07:38 AM
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Going to have to look up this commercial as I never saw it.

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Jed
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 8:25:33 AM
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Not a smart move Lambert.

I just looked the commercial up on youtube to refresh my memory and found a version of it where he was cut out.

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Robochic
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 9:00:22 AM
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I do miss KB (lambert) in the Sony commercials, i've seen this commercial and i think it really comes down to having the Wii in the commercial i think if it wasn't in there it wouldn't have been a big deal.

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daus26
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 10:03:43 AM
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There are just some things in this world that doesn't need to get as complicated as it should be. This is one of them. Sony may be hurting themselves more than they think it'll help them.

I don't know the 100% true story behind this, but it doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Then again, a lot of lawsuits aren't that much of a big deal as well. It's all about the opportunity for that $$$.

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Highlander
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 10:37:07 AM
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We spoke to Sony's Vice President of Broken Contracts, Kevin Butler; "Here at Sony, we work on many contractual obligations. We have these things we like to call trademarks and copyrights. When others use these things that belong to us, we like to use them as tools, or 'sticks' if you will, to beat our enemies in legal action. Yes, we beat them with a stick. With a stick!"

No further comment was forthcoming, although as we left the interview, I could swear I heard someone saying "Pew Pew Pew!"...

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The Doom
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 11:42:45 AM
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It only does everything...including lawsuits against Kevin Butler

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BikerSaint
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 12:48:09 PM
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Long story short, it all boils down to just 1 thing....

Kevin Butler/Lambert should've been on TV anywhere near another competitor's gaming system, Bridgestone commercial or not.

It's a shame for everyone involved, because I liked almost all of his VP of Sony commercials.


HMMMM, something else to ponder...

Did Lambert do it as payback to spite Sony for not using him in any more current Playstation commercials, or not????

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Highlander
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 1:19:13 PM

What current PlayStation commercials? I haven't seen a single one since the Kevin Butler series of spots.

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BikerSaint
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 4:04:55 PM

Highlander,
Not sure if you mis-read my comment wrong, or that I'm now reading yours right.

I did say..

Did Lambert do it as payback to spite Sony for "not" using him in any more "current" PS commercials.

But re-reading my prior post, I see that I did make a mistake at the top of my post, as I meant to say...
Kevin Butler/Lambert should've "not" been on TV(instead of should've been).

As for any current commercials(at least on regular TV), I have no idea because I did away with my cable, so all I get to watch anymore is the Sony's Crackle which has free movies, and does have current commercials of Battlefield 3, & and Madden football.


Last edited by BikerSaint on 10/8/2012 4:06:38 PM

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Highlander
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 5:04:04 PM

I was just saying that I don't remember seeing any Sony commercials since the KB campaign. Personally I'm beginning to think that SCEA is run by drunken monkeys on crack. They barely promote anything, and rarely promote the PS3. How do they expect to improve sales? Pure word of mouth?

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BikerSaint
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 10:10:36 PM

Oh OK, understood now.

I wasn't aware of that due to having no regular TV programs to watch any more, but I thought I did read here over the last 3-4 months that there were at least some games were being aired, maybe it was just on sports channels???

Anyway, I've always said that Sony needs to buck up & keep the commercials rolling, even if they are in the red.
I mean, how else are they gonna get back to being in the black if they don't even work on getting them aired.

Hell, Sony's even allowed a few M$ advertisements on it's own Crackle lately.

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Dealnightfire
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 1:20:51 PM
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Even though he is an actor Lambert can't act in anything that might use the Kevin Butler image to promote a competitors product such as an Xbox or a Wii or even probably Samsung tvs. Its usually in the contract. If he would have never played the Wii in the commercial everything would have been fine. Or if he played with a PS3 controller things would have been fine.

Its the same thing as Flo from Progressive, she can never act in anything that might promote other insurance at all.

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xnonsuchx
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 2:22:31 PM
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Sony seemed to have abandoned the Kevin Butler character many months ago (last Xmas???). Not even new YouTube vids! Unless they were paying Jerry to be exclusively available to them, most actors find whatever work they can. They may have said how they wanted the Kevin Butler to act, but Jerry is still what brought that to life, so Kevin has a lot of Jerry in him, so anything else Jerry does may very well seem Kevin Bitler-ish.

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BikerSaint
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 10:21:00 PM
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Yeah, I had thought Sony had ended the KB ads and/or the partnership a while back since there hasn't been one KB ad out since 2011.

And if I remember right, his last ad was about hanging with his new fake family. & I even went over to the PSN store just to see for sure, but Sony's deleted all of the KB commercials that were residing inside the "Media & Apps" menu.

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Raze22
Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 11:27:11 PM
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Well considered KB dead now. I doubt they are going to make another commercial of him...

Speaking of wii u and commercials. My body is ready gangnam style is the freakin best! Then you got Tobuscus "wiiiiiiii UUUUU" at the beginning of each clip. I retire now darn it. I retire now.

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