Setback For AT&T in Suit Over Verizon Ads

On Wednesday a judge denied AT&T’s request for an injunction against ads featuring Verizon’s red and blue 3G coverage maps.

AT&T claims Verizon is misleading customers by showing its 3G network (wide coverage) and comparing it with AT&T's coverage map (comparatively limited coverage).

AT&T told an Atlanta federal court Wednesday that Verizon's ads are misleading because they fail to mention that AT&T's 2.5G network covers most of the blank areas shown in Verizon's coverage map.

Verizon's response? "The truth hurts."

And it probably hurts more after Wednesday's courtroom battle than it did before.

During the hearing, Judge Timothy Batten Sr. said people might "misunderstand" the commercials, "but that doesn't mean they're misleading."

He also noted that TV viewers are not always alert.

"Most people who are watching TV are semi-catatonic," he said, prompting courtroom laughter. "They're not fully alive."

Thanks to this lunacy, potentially millions of people who never seriously considered their respective coverage maps previously, know have Verizon's red and AT&T's blue etched in their minds. After today's ruling, Verizon is free to run the ads well into the 12 Days of Christmas.

Batten did, however, allow that Verizon's ads might be "sneaky."

(Thanks Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

This is, presumably, not how AT&T expected things to work out.

However, they still have a chance to make things even worse. Should AT&T pursue its action, it may end up with a federal judge actually declaring its 3G network to be inferior to Verizon's.

That would not surprise AT&T customers, who live with the network, but it takes talent to get a U.S. District Court to agree. Especially when AT&T began this lunacy in the first place.

A smart company would look at what this lawsuit has not accomplished so far, concede (internally, at least) that Verizon has a point, and get out of this mess as quickly and as quietly as possible.

Is AT&T a smart company? Merely bringing the suit was enough to make people wonder. Continuing it is likely to make everyone sure.

Forget that. We're already sure. Let the comedy continue!

(There remains, of course, the possibility that Sprint and T-Mobile might file suits of their own).

David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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David Coursey

PC World (US online)
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