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Court Tells Cablevision to Pull Ads Calling Verizon a Liar

Verizon Communications said the U.S. District Court in Islip, New York, issued a temporary restraining order this week that orders Cablevision Systems to temporarily pull certain “anti-FiOS advertising” while also affirming Verizon’s WiFi-related speed claims. 

Cablevision followed with a statement noting that the judge did not rule that the MSO must pull all anti-FiOS ads, but that the temporary injunction is limited to ads asserting that Verizon is a “liar,” or tells “lies.”

"The law, like our economic system, encourages spirited competition," the judge said, according to a transcript. "But when a competitor exceeds the bounds of decency by falsely impugning the integrity of a competitor, it runs afoul of the law. Such extraordinary conduct warrants the extraordinary relief of a temporary restraining order.”

Verizon said the temporary restraining order, issued Monday (August 10) and released Tuesday (August 11) afternoon, ties into Cablevision ads that have targeted elements related to telco’s fiber-optic network, FiOS speeds, and the capabilities of its DVR products.  Verizon said the same court on Friday (August 7) also sustained the telco’s “Fastest Available WiFi claim,” which was at the center of a lawsuit that Cablevision filed against Verizon in January in the federal court for the Eastern district of New York. Cablevision, which recently launched a WiFi-only phone service called Freewheel, argued that Verizon’s claims were false, deceptive and designed to mislead consumers, and that Verizon’s in-home routers were not faster than Cablevision’s Optimum Smart Routers.

In June, Cablevision, the MSO with the most competitive exposure to Verizon FiOS, dropped the WiFi lawsuit so it could combine it with the case filed in the Islip court involving the TV ads that were targeting FiOS, according to Reuters. At the time, the MSO told Reuters that it was "merely in the process of being transferred to the same court that is already hearing our prior false advertising lawsuit against Verizon.”

Cablevision said Tuesday that the judge ruled that it could continue to “advertise that the Optimum WiFi network is a better data network than Verizon’s service, and that the Optimum WiFi network offers a faster experience than cellular.” 

Cablevision also said in a statement that it will keep up the fight, noting it “will challenge Verizon’s claims, not only through the legal system but also in the court of public opinion.”

Verizon, meanwhile, cheered the decision. “Cablevision’s obfuscation of the truth is nothing but a campaign to keep accurate and factual information away from consumers,” Susan Retta, Verizon’s VP of consumer marketing, said in a statement.