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'That isn't Kevin Butler', Bridgestone claims

Lawsuit over PlayStation mascot intensifies; Actor parted with Sony before advert aired

The defendant in a bizarre lawsuit filed by PlayStation US against its mascot, Kevin Butler, has retorted allegations of copyright infringement.

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The PlayStation firm is suing Jerry Lambert, the actor who plays as Butler, for appearing in a separate advert that shows him playing on Nintendo's Wii console.

In September, Lambert was used in a Bridgestone tyres commercial video and was depicted enjoying a game on the Wii.

Lambert, whose likeness is has been so closely associated with his Kevin Butler character, was later scrubbed out of the advertisement using video editing tools.

On September 11, Sony Computer Entertainment America filed against both Bridgestone and Lambert's company Wildcat Creek.

The American arm of PlayStation said that the lawsuit claims are "based on violations of the Lanham Act, misappropriation, breach of contract and tortious interference with a contractual relationship".

The company went on to allege: "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."

The Bridgestone advert aired just three days after the expiration of Lambert's contract with Sony, according to a new article in the Hollywood Reporter.

But the contract contained an "exclusivity clause" that prevented Lambert from providing his services or his likeness to competing gaming system manufacturers like Nintendo.

At the heart of the issue is whether Lambert appeared to be Kevin Butler in the Bridgestone advertisement. How PlayStation will attempt to prove this is unknown.

Bridgestone, in response, has denied that Sony has any protectable property interest whatsoever in any Kevin Butler. It also has denied the existence of Kevin Butler in its own commercial.

"Mr Lambert is one of the actors who appeared in the commercial as a Bridgestone engineer," the group says.

"Bridgestone denies that Kevin Butler appears in the Bridgestone commercial discussed herein and thus denies that he speaks or does anything whatsoever in the commercial."

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