PlayStation's Legal Stand Proves That Parody Is No Joke

Marketing, May 8, 2003 | Go to article overview

PlayStation's Legal Stand Proves That Parody Is No Joke


It should not have been a surprise at all, but it certainly will have come as one to O2 to be hauled into the Royal Courts of Justice last week by Sony PlayStation - for copyright infringement, trademark infringement and passing off.

The O2 'Talk Simple' advertising campaign at the centre of the dispute features four symbols that are, give or take a few strokes of neon, the same as PlayStation's unmistakable control pad buttons and brand icons.

What then, was O2 thinking to let this campaign see the light of day?

There are three possible scenarios. The first, that the similarity between the set of symbols is entirely coincidental, is also entirely implausible.

Were mmO2 vice-president of marketing Will Harris and Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest creative director Rooney Carruthers to make the argument, the rest of the marketing industry would have to form an orderly queue behind me to pay to see it.

The symbols do, however, each represent O2's immediate rivals: an orange square for Orange, a pink T for T-Mobile and a red V for Vodafone. Harris has been around the mobile block a few times, as client and as WCRS account man for Orange, where he triumphed in a legal dispute with Vodafone over a comparative price ad. So it is possible that Harris was more alert to the visual depiction of competitor networks in the ad, and their reaction, than any left-field assault by Sony. …

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