Friday, October 22, 2004

ADP Commentary on Verizon v. Yellow Book

I received the following memo from Larry Angove, President of the Association of Directory Publishers regarding Verizon v. Yellow Book.

As usual, Larry is very articulate and open minded in his assessment.


Date: October 20, 2004

To: All ADP Members

From: Larry Angove

Re: Verizon v. Yellow Book


By now, most, if not all, of you are aware that a decision was entered earlier this month in Verizon’s lawsuit against Yellow Book USA.

The Court found that Yellow Book had been overzealous in some of its advertising claims but that Verizon had proven no damages in the preceding and was unlikely to be able to prove any harm in a scheduled December trial for damages, which was cancelled by the presiding Judge as part of his judgment.

Both publishers quickly distributed press releases offering their points of views on the judgment, as did the New York Law Journal, which termed the outcome “no harm, no foul”. In Verizon’s release, Lester Chu, VIS’ Vice President – Strategic Planning and Marketing, boasted that “We (Verizon) pride ourselves on integrity and ethics.” It is Verizon’s own contradiction of this high-road claim, as evidenced by its actions since the decision, which prompts me to offer this commentary.

Many, including myself, suspected from the beginning that this lawsuit was more about competition than advertising legalities. Now Verizon, in my view, clearly is confirming those suspicions. Apparently without regard for the yellow pages industry as a whole, Verizon has instead chosen to air, for competitive purposes, this bit of dirty laundry in the public through full page ads in major newspapers in areas where it competes with Yellow Book. The newspaper ads contain cherry-picked, self-serving snippets from the Court’s decision that, based on my multiple readings of the 15-page opinion, can only be characterized as malicious, mean-spirited spin inconsistent with the facts and plain language of the judgment.

But perhaps Verizon’s actions aren’t really that difficult to understand. When you spend tens of millions of dollars to end up with only the right to send out releases and place ads, what else can they do?

Attached please find a copy of Yellow Book’s October 20 full page in the Wall Street Journal.


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