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The Kelsey Report® Advisory

Verizon-Yellow Book Ruling Highlights Need for Syndicated Data
Charles Laughlin , 10/15/2004

SUMMARY: Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein issued a ruling in the Verizon-Yellow Book case that provided some red meat for both sides. The evidence largely went Verizons way, according to the judge. The ruling states that Yellow Book violated the federal Lanham Act by falsely claiming . . . that the usage of Yellow Books Yellow Pages was substantially greater than it actually was, as compared to the usage of Verizons SuperPages. The judge also ruled Yellow Book violated New York General Business Law by the same actions. However, he asserted that Verizon failed to prove substantial damages as a result of the message contained in Yellow Books advertising campaign and reinforced in sales calls with potential advertisers.

In light of the evidence thus far presented, it is unlikely that a jury would find substantial damages to Verizon. As a result, the judge declined to issue an injunction against Yellow Book, fearing such action would damage Yellow Book out of proportion to the harm it has done to Verizon. A trial for damages in the case, originally scheduled for December 13, was cancelled after the two sides announced a settlement, the terms of which were not disclosed. Verizon originally filed the lawsuit in January 2004, and the case went to trial in July.

Disputes over the quality and integrity of possession and usage research was central to this case, and in his ruling, Judge Weinstein made a strong appeal to the parties and the entire directory industry to move quickly to establish a reliable third-party usage-measurement system. The judge wrote that The public and the Yellow Pages directory industry will be well served by use-survey reliability and transparency.

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