AT&T Expands Complaint Against Verizon Ads in Federal Court
November 13, 2009 8:20 AM
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AT&T is suing to try to take down Verizon's attack commercials, including the new, holiday-themed "Island of Misfit Toys" spot.
(Source: Verizon Wireless)
AT&T's complaint against Verizon now includes new ads, seeks immediate restraining order
When Verizon aired its "There's a Map for That" series of commercials poking fun at AT&T's 3G coverage, featuring lines like "if you want to know why some people have spotty 3G coverage, there's a map for that too", it seemed only a matter of time before AT&T would sue to try to take them down. Sure enough, just under a week ago
AT&T filed suit
against Verizon in New York Federal Court, claiming the ads misrepresented its coverage.
Verizon defended its ads, pointing to studies showing AT&T's 3G coverage to being lacking -- such as Apple's admission that
30 percent dropped call rates
in New York (on AT&T) were normal. However, it quietly made some changes and began airing a new set of Christmas-themed commercials that didn't include the play on Apple's "There's an app for that" slogan. It also added a small disclaimer, stating "voice & data services available outside 3G coverage areas."
However, that apparently wasn't good enough for AT&T which has reportedly returned to court, looking to expand its suit to a request for a complete restraining order both on the older commercials and the new ones. According to AT&T its internal survey showed 53 percent of viewers believed the advertisements' gaps in AT&T's map to be complete gaps in coverage
just gaps in 3G coverage.
(PDF) AT&T accuses, "Verizon is running a series of advertisements which falsely communicate that AT&T does not have wireless data coverage throughout much of the United States. […] Contrary to the image presented in the Verizon ads, our wireless network is pervasive. It covers over 300 million people, or 97 percent of the U.S. population. Our fastest, or 3G, network covers approximately 233 million people, or 75 percent of the U.S. population."
AT&T does admit its competitor has a larger network which "covers approximately 284 million people, or 91% of the population", but it says the commercial is dishonest, because "Verizon knows that its use of AT&T coverage maps is misleading because according to the coverage map legend on Verizon's, T-Mobile's, and Sprint's websites, the geographic spaces colored 'white' or left 'blank' on their maps represents areas in which there is no wireless coverage whatsoever."
The complaint itself dives into details of Verizon's cartoony "Island of Misfit Toys" ad, leading for some of the most amusing language you've read in a formal legal document. Writes AT&T's lawyers in one passage, "The spotted elephant, in a surprised manner, asks the iPhone "What are you doing here? You can download apps and browse the web!" and a Dolly for Sue asserts that "Yeah. People will love you [the iPhone]."
AT&T is seeking "injunctive relief and damages" and begs the Federal Court to "immediately temporarily restrain, and preliminarily and permanently enjoin Verizon from running" its various ads and "from falsely advertising that AT&T customers cannot communicate or use their wireless devices when they are not in a '3G' coverage area."
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11/13/2009 10:56:00 AM
I just looked at a coverage map on AT&T's own website, and it appears Verizon's commercial is somewhat accurate in terms of 3G coverage:
(Zoom in a small bit and you'll see the blue areas that indicate 3G coverage).
As stated in the article, Verizon's ads now also state that "Voice and data is available outside 3G coverage." I'm sure AT&T is thinking that this only applies to the Verizon map, despite the disclaimer appearing when both maps are present.
"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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