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In the time-honored tradition of dealing with competition by suing the pants off someone for an inaccurate ad, AT&T (s T) today filed suit against Verizon (s VZ) for its “There’s a Map for That” advertising campaign. The AT&T complaint alleges that the Verizon ads use misleading maps that show wide areas of the country where AT&T doesn’t have 3G coverage, and implies that in those areas AT&T has no coverage at all. The two companies had been back and forth since Oct. 7 on the ads, with Verizon apparently tweaking them a bit, and adding some fine print, but AT&T isn’t satisfied. So it wants them taken off the air and Verizon to pay for any losses incurred by AT&T as a result of the ad being successful.
Telecommunications and cable history is filled with such lawsuits, with AT&T filing a false advertising claim against Verizon earlier this year to stop Verizon from calling itself “America’s Most Reliable 3G Network” and “America’s Best 3G Network” and “America’s Most Reliable Wireless Network.” Verizon actually took that to court to force AT&T to prove it wrong. Verizon has not only been the recipient of such lawsuits but also the instigator, when last year it sued Time Warner Cable for its ads that implied Verizon’s FiOS service was akin to satellite TV. What’s so sad about these lawsuits is it shows how much advertising can sway public perception of a product, and for many, how hard it is to distinguish among providers.