Kevin Butler is a persona created by Sony who has appeared in PlayStation 3 adverts since the launch of the slimline console in September 2009, and he has been played since his creation by actor Jerry Lambert. Although he appeared in a number of other adverts (such as for Geico) and even TV shows (such as Everybody Loves Raymond) before the campaign started, he has since been associated solely with the PlayStation brand.
However, that changed with an advertisement for Bridgestone tires which starred Butler - er, Lambert - and committed the cardinal sin of showing a Wii (a reward for buying the tires). The advert has since been removed from YouTube, although the new version, with Lambert edited out, is visible as an unofficial video of somebody filming his television.
Sony is now suing both Lambert (or rather, his production company Wildcat Creek) and Bridgestone Tyres, for "violations of the Lanham Act [which prohibits trademark infringement], misappropriation, breach of contract and tortious interference with a contractual relationship"
They went on:
"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."
Sony has until 12th October to withdraw the motion or continue and proceed with a hearing.