SAN FRANCISCO—Bridgestone Americas is in a court battle with Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. over alleged unfair competition over the use of an advertising character.
In its brief filed in September 2012 with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Bridgestone appropriated the "Kevin Butler" character that had appeared in more than 30 Sony video game commercials for use in a co-promotion with Nintendo, one of Sony's main competitors in the video game market.
Bridgestone's use of the Kevin Butler character violates the Lanham Act, which forbids the unauthorized use of a company trademark, Sony argued. Hiring Jerry Lambert—the actor who played Kevin Butler in the Sony commercials—to play the same character in the Bridgestone-Nintendo ads compounded the injury, Sony said.
"With the intent of unfairly capitalizing on the consumer goodwill generated by 'Kevin Butler,' Bridgestone has used and is using the same or confusingly similar character, also played by the same actor, to advertise its products or services," Sony said.
In its reply brief, Bridgestone denied some of Sony's allegations and said it lacked sufficient information on others to reply effectively to them.
Lambert and his production company, Wildcat Creek, have settled with Sony, according to James G. Gilliland Jr., a San Francisco attorney representing Sony.
There are no court dates scheduled for Sony v. Bridgestone for the next six months, according to Gilliland. "This case is a long ways from resolution," he said.
A Bridgestone spokesman declined comment because the case is ongoing.