AT&T Suit Against Verizon Fizzles Into Oblivion

That fizzling sound you just heard was the air going out of AT&T Inc.’s (T) fight.

The nation’s second-largest wireless carrier on Wednesday dropped its lawsuit against rival Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) which, in turn, tossed a lawsuit it had filed in response.

Neither company would comment to media outlets.

Several weeks ago, AT&T took offense to Verizon’s snarky “There’s A Map for That” ads, which riffed on the Apple iPhone “There’s an App for That” campaign. AT&T is the exclusive carrier for the iPhone; the provider was reacting to Verizon’s claims that it offers only spotty next-gen access – not a good thing for iPhone owners wanting to make full use of their devices. To prove its point, Verizon publicized maps of its 3G coverage next to those of AT&T’s, pulled from AT&Ts own Web site.

AT&T really didn’t like that.

So, it sued Verizon and asked a federal court to pull the ads, including the spoof of “Island of Misfit Toys.” Verizon fired back, saying “the truth hurts,” and contending that AT&T has not been forthcoming about its intermittent 3G coverage.

A judge agreed. He called Verizon’s ads “sneaky,” although not misleading, and that was that – until AT&T debuted its ads featuring actor Luke Wilson. They’re pretty lame but they do get in a few decent slaps, such as pointing out that Verizon’s 3G customers can’t talk on the phone and surf the Web at the same time. However, AT&T doesn’t refute Verizon’s 3G coverage claims, instead focusing on its total reach throughout the United States.

On Wednesday, both AT&T and Verizon ended the legal dueling but didn’t say why. Expect the marketing battle to continue, though, especially with the holidays – which typically command strong consumer electronics sales – just around the corner.

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