Oh, happy day. It’s not often that a legal filing provokes chuckles, but Verizon Communications Inc. has managed to do just that in its response to AT&T Inc.’s recent lawsuit over the 3G “There’s a Map for That” ads.
Every media outlet covering the story today is quoting from the introduction of Verizon’s brief to the court, and that’s because it’s worth quoting. So here you go: “AT&T did not file this lawsuit because Verizon’s ‘There’s A Map For That’ advertisements are untrue; AT&T sued because Verizon’s ads are true and the truth hurts.”
At issue is AT&T’s real 3G coverage, which has become a sore spot for the company as some iPhone users complain they can’t use all the promised features on their devices and that downloads are slow. Verizon, ahead of the holiday buying blitz, is taking advantage of that weakness with its “Island of Misfit Toys” and other four ads that show Verizon’s coverage map chock-full of 3G coverage, unlike its rival’s.
“Despite the far smaller size of its 3G network, AT&T has spent tens of millions of dollars making its 3G network, which it dubs the ‘Nation’s Fastest 3G Network,’ the centerpiece of its national advertising since at least the summer of 2008,” Verizon lawyers wrote. “AT&T now is attempting to silence Verizon’s ads that include maps graphically depicting the geographic reach of AT&T’s 3G network as compared to Verizon’s own 3G network because AT&T does not like the truthful picture painted by that comparison.”
AT&T, for its part, has fired back at Verizon in a letter to customers. The nation’s second-largest wireless carrier says the map depicting its coverage is blatantly false. AT&T says its network reaches 97 percent of the country and calls its 3G network the nation’s fastest. It throws in one Verizon comparison, saying AT&T’s smartphones are more popular.
Verizon refutes those claims, as well, in its Nov. 16 filing:
“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. … Nonetheless, AT&T asserts that Verizon’s ads about 3G coverage are “false and misleading” because they allegedly imply a message that confuses consumers regarding AT&T’s non-3G coverage.”
Further, Verizon points out in the filing’s footnotes, “AT&T has been aware for more than a year that maps comparing Verizon’s and AT&T’s 3G coverage areas appear on Verizon’s website.”
Finally, the company says, “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.”
Get ready for Round 2. We surely have not heard the last from AT&T on this matter.