John Kirby, a lawyer whose efforts on behalf of Nintendo helped inspire the character of Kirby, has died.
In 1984, Kirby successfully defended Nintendo against a case brought by Universal Studios, in which the film studio claimed that Donkey Kong was illegally based on King Kong. Kirby argued that King Kong was in the public domain and, as a result, Universal had no legal basis to claim ownership.
In thanks Nintendo gave John Kirby a boat, christened The Donkey Kong. Shigeru Miyamoto later said that, during the design process for the adorable puffball, the name Kirby was chosen, at least in part, in connection with the company’s lawyer.
John Kirby was born in 1939 and died October 2, aged 79. For more detail on his life and career, here's the NYT obituary.