Why the Sony vs. Kevin Butler Lawsuit is Bonkers
It’s that time of the year, that sad annual event where some gaming company will try its chances at winning the “Grinch of the Gaming World” award. In 2010, it was the Activision-Infinity Ward fallout. Last year, we had Bethesda suing Mojang over the word, “Scrolls.”
This year, Sony has kicked it up a notch.
The Uncharted and God of War publisher is taking legal action against the tire company Bridgestone for including the actor who played the faux executive in Sony ads, Kevin Butler. If that wasn’t Grinchy enough, they’re also pulling a lawsuit double-whammy and suing the actor, as well.
Never mind the fact that Sony never actually trademarked the “Kevin Butler” character or that the actor, Jerry Lambert, has done Bridgestone commercials for years. This hullabaloo stems from the actor holding a Wii remote in his hands during the commercial. That’s it. He doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t wear a clever “Kevin” name tag.
It’s as though Jerry Lambert is Prince Adam and any piece of video game hardware in existence is the Power Sword; Sony is insinuating that touching one transforms Lambert into Kevin Butler.
Sony is practically condemning this man to a lifetime of only being able to hold the Japanese manufacturer’s products. How far will it go? I can see it now:
It’s a crisp Christmas morn at House Lambert. Wee little Billy Lambert spies a sizable gift with his name on it under the tree. Billy is frail, so his father opens the present for him. Billy’s eyes widen to the size of doubloons as his father holds up the new Wii U console.
Suddenly, smoke canisters burst through the living room windows, as Sony action-lawyers repel down the side of the estate and break down the doors. Little Billy is startled and confused. His father screams, “I’m not in character! I’m not in character!” But the Sony litigation team will hear none of it. They seize the Wii U as evidence and issue an injunction against Little Billy for violation of the DMCA.
The Lambert family suffers permanent lung damage, Little Billy is barred from playing his new game console in the presence of his father, and needless to say, Christmas is wholly ruined.
But the Lamberts can rest easy in their drafty, smoke-filled house knowing that Sony has kept market confusion at bay so no consumer will accidentally purchase four tires and a Wii thinking that they are a PlayStation.