updated 07:40 pm EST, Wed November 18, 2009
Verizon 3G map ads to run during trial
Judge Timothy Batten Sr. dealt an early setback to AT&T's lawsuit against Verizon over allegedly misleading ads by refusing to grant a requested injunction that would have forced Verizon to take the ads down immediately. The US District Court ruled that the TV spots might be misunderstood but weren't harmfully deceptive, thus leaving no urgent need to change or withdraw the ads ahead of court proceedings. AT&T will have a second chance to persuade Judge Batten at one more hearing on December 16th.
AT&T had demanded the ads be pulled under the argument that they were purposefully designed to misrepresent the scope of its coverage, implying no coverage whatsoever rather than just 3G service. Verizon has maintained that it clearly identifies the limitation to 3G and in its formal court response told Judge Batten Sr. that AT&T objected because it was true. At a hearing today, Verizon's defense reiterated this point and said that truthful speech is protected against these sorts of lawsuits.
The ads have highlighted not just the reduced scope of AT&T's 3G coverage but also its connection quality, often using the iPhone as a direct allusion to problems with calls and data in major cities like New York City and San Francisco.