Optus stops chasing Telstra over ‘unlimited’ ad damages

Optus has been ‘comprehensively vindicated’ by May judgement, spokesperson says

Optus has stopped chasing Telstra over damages the Singtel subsidiary it may have suffered due to a Telstra “unlimited” advertising campaign, which a court found to be misleading.

In May, the Federal Court’s Justice Gleeson found that a series of Telstra ads falsely conveyed “the representation that Telstra offers a mobile product or service that is unlimited”.

Justice Gleeson found that an “ordinary reasonable consumer of mobile network services would understand the word ‘unlimited’ in the context of the Telstra advertisements to mean limitless or without limits, at least within the realms of what might be sensibly expected or might be within the control of Telstra. This understanding corresponds with the Macquarie Dictionary definition of ‘unlimited’.”

The Telstra ad campaign had used the slogan “One word from Australia's best mobile network. Unlimited.”

The ads were launched alongside Telstra’s “endless data” plan, which doesn’t have excess data charges but does throttle downloads after 40GB (Telstra has since launched a plan that offers unlimited full-speed data).

After the court found in Optus’ favour, it said it intended to pursue a damages claim against the larger telco.

In June it said it would seek access to a range of Telstra’s business records to help it calculate the losses it had suffered from the “unlimited” campaign.

Optus said it wanted to quantify the loss it suffered with reference to the business Telstra won as a result of the advertising campaign. The telco also told a hearing that it may have “lost the chance to compete” for customers newly in the market for a mobile plan.

The case was yesterday dismissed with the consent of the parties. Justice Gleeson ordered that Telstra be restrained for a period of three years from using the “unlimited” advertising that had raised Optus’ ire.

Optus would not confirm the nature of any out of court settlement between it and the rival telco.

“Optus took the action against Telstra because it felt the advertisement was likely to mislead consumers,” a spokesperson told Computerworld.

“Our action has been comprehensively vindicated by the judgement and the offending advertisements have been removed from the market,” the spokesperson added.

“Optus welcomes the closure of this successful action.”

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