by Tom Kaneshige

Verizon vs. AT&T: A Playground Spat

Nov 18, 2009
MobileSmall and Medium Business

In the words of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, "Aren't you going to laugh at my nose too?"

The Verizon-AT&T spat will no doubt go down as one of the great moments in iPhone lore. There’s big characters (or companies) acting like children, a whole lot of name-calling, and even a spotted elephant quoted in a legal filing.

After feeling bullied by Verizon, AT&T went to the principal’s office and filed a lawsuit claiming that Verizon’s “There’s a map for that” advertising campaign wasn’t fair. AT&T didn’t disagree with its poor 3G coverage compared to Verizon’s 3G coverage, rather that Verizon’s map of AT&T’s 3G coverage had white spaces where AT&T offers coverage (just not 3G).

Not one to apologize and shake hands, Verizon instead mocked AT&T with a cool Christmas commercial that made fun of AT&T’s pimply 3G coverage. In staying with the kiddy theme, Verizon’s commercial showed the iPhone banned to the island of misfit toys in a parody of the classic animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer television Christmas special.

Here it is:

What follows is even more entertaining—and childish. AT&T amended its initial lawsuit shortly after the “misfit toys” commercial aired. The amendment singled out the “misfit toys” commercial, but in doing so had to describe it in the legal filing:

“The red Charlie-in-the-Box says ‘Hey! Check out the new guy!’ The spotted elephant, in a surprised manner, asks the iPhone ‘What are you doing here? You can download apps and browse the web!’ and a Dolly for Sue asserts that ‘Yeah. People will love you [the iPhone].'”

But wait! It gets better. Verizon filed a 53-page response that only adds to this playground tit-for-tat. Here’s how it starts:

“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.”

We can only hope this legal wrangling ends up in the court of Judge Judy, who would no doubt tell both parties to shut up and grow up.

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