The Verizon legal team should be commended. Legal briefs and filings don’t usually make very compelling reading, but this one is actually a pretty good read. It has a little drama, a little humor, and ultimately makes the point that AT&T is simply trying to use the courts to obscure the simple truth that its 3G network is inadequate.
In the filing, Verizon states “Remarkably, AT&T admits that the 3G coverage maps–the one thing that is common to all five ads–are accurate and that the ads’ express statement that Verizon has “5X More 3G Coverage” than AT&T is true.”
Verizon goes on to say “In the final analysis, AT&T seeks emergency relief because Verizon’s side-by-side, apples-to-apples comparison of its own 3G coverage with AT&T’s confirms what the marketplace has been saying for months: AT&T failed to invest adequately in the necessary infrastructure to expand its 3G coverage to support its growth in smartphone business and the usefulness of its service to smartphone users has suffered accordingly. AT&T may not like the message that the ads send, but this Court should reject its efforts to silence the messenger.”
The legal response from Verizon concludes by saying “This motion is a blatant effort to ask the Court to do what the marketplace will not do: shield AT&T from truthful comparative advertisements that Verizon has a right to air and that consumers have a right to see.”
Touché. Well-played, Verizon.
Recent reports from Brandindex.com show that Verizon’s brand image is skyrocketing, while AT&T’s has plummeted. AT&T could construe the reports to support its claim that the ads are misleading and damaging to its image.
Or, perhaps AT&T’s claim has become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. By suing Verizon and making a big deal over the ad campaign, AT&T has increased the exposure of the ads exponentially. If the shift in brand perception is a result of the ads, it could be because they’re true rather than because they’re misleading. The fact that AT&T is whining about it publicly certainly doesn’t improve its brand perception either.
AT&T was hoping to get an emergency injunction to force Verizon to pull the entire marketing campaign pending the results of a full hearing. It appears that AT&T will not get that injunction and that this case will not be heard for awhile. Even if AT&T ultimately prevails, the holidays will be over, the damage will be done, and Verizon will most likely have ended the campaign of its own volition anyway.
Verizon isn’t making any claim in the ads that AT&T’s own customers haven’t already stated. Consumers have taken issue with AT&T’s high dropped call rate in some areas, sparse 3G coverage, and more. I doubt AT&T will be taking its customers to court to get them to stop complaining.
AT&T is its own worst enemy in this case. It is drawing attention to disparaging details about its own network which it admits are accurate, and coming off looking like whiners at the same time. Seems like a lose-lose and makes me wonder if the AT&T legal team isn’t secretly working for the Verizon marketing team.