Reno, NV.--Early this morning boxer and mixed martial arts fighter Eric "Butterbean" Esch filled papers in 9th District Federal Court suing King Hippo for $10 million in damages. The 41 year-old fighter and former IBA, WAA, and NABC heavyweight champion of the world, claims his "likeness, character, identity, and image" were "unfairly stolen" without his consent or compensation.
Eric "Butterbean" Esch
"It's a straightforward case," said Larry Smelding, attorney for Butterbean. "Only a blind jury wouldn't find in favor of my client. If this guy thinks he can steal my client's identity and get away with it just because he is royalty, then he is about to get a wake up call."
King Hippo, from Hippo Island in the South Pacific, made his debut in professional boxing's Major Circuit in the 1987 video game Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! The animated character has a record of 18-9, with 18 wins coming by knock out, and is ranked #2 in his league.
When reached for comment King Hippo only replied, "Do you like my new trunks? They are size XXX Large! Ha Ha Ha!"
In a telephone interview granted against counsel's advice, Butterbean said he respects "what King Hippo does in the ring," but that the King "needs to make his own image, quit riding on [Butterbean's] coat tails, and stop giving away all my secrets."
It is about these "secrets" that the crux of the complaint lies.
Though Butterbean refused to elaborate on the specifics of these secrets only stating that they were of an extremely "embarrassing and damaging" nature, many professional boxing insiders believe that just like king Hippo, if you punch Butterbean in the mouth while he is yapping, it causes a reaction wherein his trunks fall down.
"I've never seen anything like it," said George Linberger, who stripped Butterbean of the NABC title in 2005. "When I fought [Butterbean] in 2000 he destroyed me. I never wanted to fight him again. Then I started playing Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! with a buddy. I noticed how King Hippo and Butterbean looked a lot alike, then my buddy showed me how if you hit King Hippo in the mouth, his pants fall down. When he goes to pull up his pants, you can hit him right in the gut again and again. Pretty soon, [King Hippo] just falls down. I started training again, jumping rope, sparing, and playing Nintendo. Sure enough, next time I got in the ring with Butterbean, [I] hit him right in the mouth, his pants fell down, and next thing I know they're given me the NABC belt."
But boxing insiders aren't the only ones who find the this lawsuit interesting.
"There is a real legal question here," said Sally Haskins, a professor teaching Civil Procedure at UNLV. "To date no one has really satisfied the issue of whether or not you can sue a video game character." Asked if she thought Butterbean had a chance of winning his case Ms. Haskins replied, "Oh, heavens no! But it's an interesting idea."
Larry Smelding explained the decision to file against King Hippo himself and not against Nintendo, a multinational corporation with over $7.8 billion in revenue in 2006, as something his client "felt adamant about."
"It just makes sense," Butterbean said in his interview. "For one thing King Hippo is a king. He's probably got a real nice palace, like a gold crown, some jewels, and stuff. I win against Nintendo and what are they gonna give me? Video games? I don't want video games. I want chests full of gold."
The aging fighter went on to further explain his decision: "Besides, I don't even look nothing like a Nintendo. What am I going to do? Sue a little plastic box for stealing my identity?"
Executives for Nintendo refused to comment on this story, but wanted to ensure loyal and perspective customers that regardless of any pending litigation against one of the company's characters, "Nintendo will continue to provide premium fun-time for honored consumer group."
(Disclaimer: this is a fictional story.)