AT&T Loses First Legal Battle, Makes Things Worse With Luke Wilson Ad

By Matt Van Hoven 

AT&T lost its first legal argument against Verizon Wireless, a blow that was only made worse when juxtaposed with their first rebuttal advertisement &#151 an ad that more or less falls flat compared to Verizon’s campaign.

Hoping to get Verizon’s ads stricken from the airwaves, AT&T filed a restraining order &#151 but an Atlanta judge turned down the request. It’s just the first step in AT&T’s legal battle, which hopes to prove that Verizon caused irreparable damage with ads claiming that AT&T’s 3G network is lacking.

AT&T doesn’t refute those claims, rather states that their competitor has confused consumers into thinking the 3G map shown represents the slower EDGE or GPR networks, which are used for basic services like calls and texts. Verizon has since modified the spots to clarify they’re referring to 3G.

Maybe the most poignant move on Verizon’s part came in their legal rebuttal, a 53-page document, stating AT&T is suing “because it doesn’t want to face the truth about its network,” reports CNET.

In what appears to be an attempt to counter Verizon’s “There’s a Map for That” campaign, AT&T has produced its own spot using actor Luke Wilson. A chubby-faced Wilson stands in front of a chalk board containing a checklist of features available to AT&T customers. He then asks which provider (AT&T or Verizon) has a certain feature, and puts an “X” next to the “better” company. Unsurprisingly, Verizon’s only win is for “Name that starts with letter v.”

“Hey, they got one,” says Wilson. Here’s what you get with AT&T:

1. “Nation’s fastest 3G network”

2. “Talk and Surf at the same time”

3. “Access to over 100,000 apps”

Well Verizon’s ads take care of number 1, since being fastest doesn’t help when service is spotty. The second claim is easily defeated: think about the last time you spoke on the phone and surfed the Web &#151 handy at times, but ultimately it’s hard to pay attention to both at once. Also, the iPhone can’t run multiple applications at once, a feature users seem to find more appealing. And who has the time to look through 100,000 apps?

That this is all AT&T could muster indicates the provider was not ready for such an attack, despite the fact that a major qualm among iPhone customers is the provider’s 3G network (and has been for years). They’ve had more than enough time to both beef up their network, an effort that has likely been hampered by the high costs associated with the iPhone. For example, AT&T pays Apple not only for exclusive rights to the device but also every time a new customer buys one. Meanwhile Verizon has strengthened its 3G network while awaiting a competitive smart phone. And now they have three: HTC’s Droid Eris, HTC’s Imagio and Motorola’s Droid.

More:AT&T to Verizon: ‘There’s a Lawsuit for That’