Sony Computer Entertainment has settled its breach of contract court fight with the actor Jerry Lambert. Lambert portrayed the “Kevin Butler” character that was prominent in some 30 Sony PlayStation game console TV ads that aired from 2009 to 2012.
Sony filed suit against Lambert’s company Wildcat Creek and tire company Bridgestone Americas last September after the company became aware that Lambert had participated in a Bridgestone ad where he was seen playing on a competing Nintendo Wii game console. At the time Bridgestone was doing a Wii giveaway promotion to customers who bought a set of tires. The Bridgestone ad was seen on networks such as TNT, FX and ESPN.
Sony alleged that Lambert’s contract with the company barred him from promoting any competing game system. The company also alleged that Bridgestone had essentially poached the Kevin Butler character (which Sony owns) by putting Lambert in its ad. Bridgestone disagreed, arguing that Lambert created a different game-playing character for its ad. Although Lambert has settled, Sony and Bridgestone are still battling in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California over the issue.
According to the settlement, Lambert acknowledged that his contract with Sony precluded him from promoting or endorsing competing game systems. Lambert also acknowledged that at the very least, confusion was created in the minds of some consumers who believed he was portraying the Kevin Butler character in both the PlayStation and Bridgestone commercials.
Under the terms of the settlement, Lambert agreed not to appear in any ad or promotion that features or even mentions “any other video game or computer entertainment system or video game company” for a period of two years.
Lambert can do video game commercials again once the two years are up, although the Kevin Butler character remains the property of Sony and Lambert is barred from playing the character without Sony’s permission. For the first two years that he is eligible to do video game commercials again, Lambert also agreed to give Sony notice and provide the company with sufficient details so that it “can assess whether or not Lambert’s intended performance violates [Sony’s] rights in the Kevin Butler character.”
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