A decision from the Eastern District of Texas on Wednesday said that AT&T Mobility LLC cannot end a T-Mobile USA advertising campaign that AT&T said cast a false light on its senior discount program. In denying the preliminary injunction, Judge Amos L. Mozzant III concluded AT&T did not establish that T-Mobile’s website, bannedseniors.com, contains advertisements that are literally false.
The case dates to September 2022 when AT&T sued T-Mobile over the website, which the plaintiff claimed inaccurately portrayed its special deal for Floridians 55-years-old and over and its savings program for American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) members, available to all irrespective of their age or billing address.
The opinion explained that T-Mobile’s website is part of a nationwide marketing and advertising initiative intended to attract customers over the age of 55. It states that AT&T “ban[s] senior discounts” outside of Florida and that “92% of seniors in the U.S. can’t get a 55+ discount from . . AT&T because they don’t live in Florida.”
Additionally, the website includes a comparative map of the continental United States that highlights the states in which T-Mobile and AT&T offer “discounted 55+ plans.” It depicts Florida as the only state in which customers can receive AT&T’s discounted plan while representing that T-Mobile offers discounts in each of the lower forty-eight states.
The question before Judge Mozzant was whether AT&T demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of its false advertising claim. Answering in the negative, the opinion said AT&T failed to show that T-Mobile’s advertising is literally false as opposed to merely misleading.
“Upon review of the Banned Seniors advertisements in their full context, and considering the parties’ briefing and evidence, the Court finds that significant factual disputes prevent it from determining that AT&T is likely to prevail on the merits of its false advertising claim at this stage,” Judge Mozzant wrote. The opinion specified that both parties presented reasonable interpretations of the statements “senior discount” and “ban,” thereby poking holes in AT&T’s assertion that the advertisements were unambiguously false.
“Of course, AT&T can ultimately prevail at trial,” the court remarked in closing.
AT&T is represented by Reese Marketos LLP and T-Mobile by Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz P.C. and Gillam & Smith LLP.