Richards Group Entangled In Sony, Bridgestone Lawsuit
Ad shop The Richards Group has been dragged into an ongoing court battle between Sony Computer Entertainment and Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations.
Sony sued Bridgestone last year for allegedly misappropriating the “Kevin Butler” character that Sony had used in many of its PlayStation game system ads. A Bridgestone ad last year used the same actor that portrayed Kevin Butler for Sony to promote a giveaway it was doing with competing console maker Nintendo.
While Bridgestone insisted the actor portrayed a different character, Sony charged that the tire company created unlawful confusion in the marketplace that led to a loss of business. It cited using the same actor who was barred by contract from working with competing game system makers.
Now, in an amended complaint filed earlier this month, Sony has sued The Richards Group, alleging that it too is legally liable because it was involved in creating and placing on TV the offending ad for Bridgestone.
Sony alleged that it had information leading it to believe that Richards and Bridgestone began working with Kevin Butler actor Jerry Lambert on the ad starting in February 2012. Sony also alleged that the two defendants were aware at the time Lambert had a contract with Sony that barred him from working with any competing game system marketers such as Nintendo.
Lambert was also sued by Sony but settled in January and agreed (among other things) not to appear in ads and promotions for game systems that compete with Sony for a period of two years.
In court papers filed last week, Bridgestone denied Sony’s specific allegation that Richards was its “agent” in producing and broadcasting the ad, although the tire maker didn’t dispute that Richards had some involvement.
What Bridgestone did say was that “any allegedly wrongful acts performed by [Richards], if there were any, cannot be imputed to Bridgestone because the actions alleged were not within the scope of conduct,” authorized by it in its contractual relationship with the agency.
Richards has yet to respond to Sony’s allegations. A rep for the agency did not immediately respond to a query seeking comment.