If you remember back a few weeks ago, Jerry Lambert (the actor behind the Kevin Butler persona) was spotted in a Bridgestone commercial that effectively endorsed Nintendo’s Wii. Some people felt betrayed, others laughed, and many wondered what in the hell the big deal was about an actor carrying on his career. Sony meanwhile apparently vied for a feeling of pure rage, as it’s been revealed that they’re caught up in legalities over this issue.
That’s right: Sony is suing both Bridgestone and the advertising company behind the commercial for what’s effectively intellectual property infringement. While the general consensus of the internet seems to be all about comparing Sony to a stinking bag of dicks, there’s quite a bit more to this than the idea that “Sony is just suing their old mascot because they’re mad.”
For one, Jerry Lambert himself is the president of the advertising company behind the commercial. That doesn’t bode well with this next point: it’s almost assured that he signed into an exclusivity contract with a non-compete clause with Sony, meaning anything that’s considered to be helping their main competition to be a pretty dumb move. With Lambert potentially having a hand in the very basis of the commercial, and not just hired as an actor for it, things could get ugly here.
Obviously, Sony can’t trademark Lambert’s face, or he’d never be able to get a job again. However, if he’s directly endorsing a competitor’s product, there’s grounds for legal action; knowing that this case was initially filed on September 11th and that Bridgestone released an updated version of the ad with Lambert digitally removed, this is much messier than anyone can comprehend.
Of course, there’s a lot more to this issue; this is just one side of the story, and it’s mostly speculation at that. Somebody definitely seems to be in trouble, though, and if there’s one part of Sony that’s still competent, you can bet it’s their legal team.* I wouldn’t want to go toe to toe with them.
*That was a joke, Hirai, and a terrible one at that. If you sue me, I will be pissed.
- Kevin Butler Seen in a Wii-Centric Commercial