Monday, November 23, 2009

ATT VS Verizon To Sue Or Not To Sue, That Is The Question

We've worked with clients in the past that insisted on filing lawsuits. From a legal point of view, the lawsuits may have been justified. More often than not, they did not accomplish what the client wanted to accomplish, but there was the "legal principle" after all.

And in some cases the lawsuits hurt the clients more than their adversary because of the public perception of the motive for the lawsuits.

Now there is another such case involving the giant ATT and Verizon, and according to some bloggers and even some legal experts ATT may have missed the boat in deciding to go to court, without apparently seeking advice from their communications experts.

Verizon is running a series of television ads showing their mobile phones using their 3G network, displayed on a map of the United States, and comparing its coverage to that of ATT with another map showing its much smaller geographic 3G coverage area.

Someone at ATT called in a big outside law firm to teach those folks at Verizon they could not get away with their highly successful ad campaign. So far, Verizon is getting more attention to its so-called 3G coverage superiority and ATT seems to be drawing even more attention to its apparent inferior 3G coverage area.

No one asked us, but if they had, we would have counseled ATT to counter the Verizon ads with their own and rush improvements to their 3G or next generation 4G service.

There is a time and reason for going to court, but before that decision is made, the aggrieved organization must consider the "court of public opinion" and how, or even if, it can win there too.

If you can manage the court of public opinion and not lose there, too, then file. But if there is any doubt about how your key audiences, including employees, suppliers, customers and investors will perceive your "case" then look for another solution and hold off on the lawsuit.

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