John Paczkowski

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Frosty’s Winter Litigation Wonderland: AT&T Demands Verizon Pull Holiday iPhone Ads [With Full Complaint]

misiftAs clever as it is, Verizon’s reimagining of a Rankin/Bass animated Christmas television special as a criticism of AT&T’s wireless network coverage did not go over well with Ma Bell. On Wednesday, the carrier amended its complaint against Verizon, asking a federal court in Atlanta to force its rival to immediately pull the ad and two other holiday-themed spots that debuted with it.

Once again, AT&T (T) argues that coverage maps featured in Verizon’s (VZ) ad are misleading and falsely suggest that AT&T offers no coverage in areas where it actually does service.

“Contrary to the image presented in the Verizon ads, our wireless network is pervasive,” said an AT&T spokesman. “It covers over 300 million people, or 97 percent of the U.S. population. Our fastest, or 3G, network covers approximately 233 million people, or 75 percent of the U.S. population….[Verizon’s] use of white space is misleading.”

While AT&T is deadly serious about this accusation, the fact that it must make it by referencing creatures like the Abominable Snow Monster and a pink spotted elephant makes it, well, hysterical.

“The ‘Island of Misfit Toys’ television advertisement is a parody of the ‘Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’ television special that depicts an island to which Rudolph travels after escaping an attack from the Abominable Snow Monster,” AT&T argues in its complaint. “The advertisement begins with outdated, discarded toys expressing surprise at the arrival of an Apple iPhone. 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].'”

The complaint continues: “In response, a blue AT&T coverage map depicting large swaths of ‘white’ or ‘blank’ space across the United States appears above the iPhone. All the toys exclaim ‘Oh . . .’ in dismay, while the iPhone wilts and its screen turns dark. The toy airplane then assures the iPhone that ‘you’re going to fit right in here!'”

Finally, as AT&T describes it, “AT&T’s and Verizon’s coverage maps then appear and the announcer states, ‘with five times more 3G coverage than AT&T, Verizon Wireless is your destination for great gifts.’ The image of the sad and wilting iPhone on an island of misfit toys falsely communicates that the iPhone is a broken device because it cannot browse the web or download applications when outside of AT&T’s depicted coverage area. Further, the maps in the advertisement deceive consumers into believing that AT&T’s customers have no coverage whatsoever when they are outside of AT&T’s depicted coverage area and thus cannot use their wireless devices in many parts of the United States.”

Verizon’s attorneys are probably doubled over with laughter at this very moment.

Below, AT&T’s amended complaint in its entirety:

VerizonAmendComp _3_