A judge has thrown out a lawsuit by former Donkey Kong record holder Billy Mitchell — who was featured in the 2007 documentary The King of Kong — over his claim that a Cartoon Network show stole his likeness, The Associated Press reports.
Mitchell had taken umbrage with the Regular Show character Garrett Bobby Ferguson, a floating head with a beard who cheats his way to video game glory. Cartoon Network said Ferguson is a transformative depiction of Mitchell — who also sports a beard and long brown hair — and New Jersey Federal District Judge Anne Thompson ruled that the likeness was dissimilar enough that the First Amendment protected the show.
Judge Thompson said that Regular Show exaggerated Mitchell’s likeness to make the character “cartoonishly evil.” She further noted, “The television character does not match the plaintiff in appearance: GBF appears as a non-human creature, a giant floating head with no body from outer space, while Plaintiff is a human being. And when GBF loses his title, the character literally explodes, unlike Plaintiff.”
Mitchell has built a career out of his arcade game prowess, notably becoming the first player to achieve a perfect score in Pac-Man, and holding the longtime record for points in Donkey Kong. Mitchell also owns the Hollywood, Florida chain, Rickey’s World Famous Restaurants and hocks a line of hot sauces also under the Rickey’s World Famous name.
In The King of Kong, Mitchell is portrayed as the cocky antagonist to Steve Wiebe, a down-on-his-luck science teacher who tries to break Mitchell’s Donkey Kong high score.