Tuesday, January 26, 2010


So lately, there has been a surge in television advertising by both Verizon Wireless and AT&T (Cingular?) comparing maps about 3G coverage and downloading and phones and Luke Wilson and whatever else they can think of. Honestly, I would just prefer a price war any day over a feature war, but that's the low-budget kind of guy that I am.

Aside from all that, I can't help but notice an immense amount of fine print on these ads. We've discussed false advertising previously and the statute bears repeating really only in a citation.1 The usual stuff, material misprepresentation, blah blah blah.2 And while some would say it's merely puffery3 (I can't help but snicker a bit at the word), part of me also has to bear in mind that if you don't read the fine print (which you can't because it's tiny and on the screen for about .4 seconds) you could easily be misled into thinking either 1) AT&T has no reception or 2) Verizon doesn't let you do anything.

Some of the potential issues are material, especially if you want to buy a phone. Just give me a map of both of them side to side to compare. Problem is, the maps are in all likelihood identical (once you parse down the 3G issue - which I would argue most people either don't need or don't use). After that, it boils down to what phone you want-except the only difference between AT&T and Verizon is the iPhone and the Droid and I would argue people who actively seek those phones out are relatively insensitive to things like "maps," "cost," or "reason."

Can you tell I'm a BB user? Ha.

1: 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1) (2006).
2: Id. § 1125(a)(1)(B).
3: Time Warner Cable v. DIRECTV, Inc., 497 F.3d 144, 159-60 (2d Cir. 2007) ("[P]uffery [is] not actionable under the Lanham Act.").

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