Optus seeks injunction on VHA unlimited ads

Optus is seeking an interim injunction from the Federal Court on Vodafone Hutchison Australia’s (VHA) advertisements for Vodafone Infinite plans.

Optus is yet to submit a statement of claim against its competitor but a spokesperson told Computerworld Australia the telco would allege the ads are misleading and do not “adequately inform consumers of the various qualifications”.

In a directions hearing held this week presiding judge, Justice Arthur Emmett, ordered a claim be submitted by 1pm on Tuesday 14 December. A defence to the claim is due from VHA before the parties meet for further directions from the judge on Wednesday.

The Infinite plans, announced in mid-November, offer customers unlimited local calls and unlimited local SMS and MMS messages for local and overseas mobiles, sent within Australia. Unlimited access is also offered to popular social networking sites including Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and MySpace, provided subscribers access the sites through their mobile portals, official applications or Vodafone’s own media hub.

In its response to Optus’ claims, a VHA spokesperson said the claims were baseless.

“We are confident that our advertising and marketing used to support the launch of Vodafone Infinite plans are simple, straightforward and clear to customers,” they said. “We disagree with Optus' claims against Vodafone and our Infinite plans and will defend those plans with protecting customer value in mind.”

The Federal Court recently found Optus to have misled customers with advertisements for its ‘Think Bigger’ and ‘Supersonic’ plans, under which both the subscribers' on-peak and off-peak speeds were shaped to “sub-broadband” speeds of 64 kilobits per second (Kbps) after they reached the monthly quota of either usage period. Presiding judge Justice Nye Perram ordered the telco implement corrective advertising and offer affected customers the opportunity to cancel their subscriptions without penalty.

The telco is yet to finalise the lawsuit with industry watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), with issues surrounding confidentiality of Optus’ information still at stake.

Optus also faced the Federal Court earlier this year in a separate case from the ACCC over its use of the 'unlimited' moniker in advertising.

Follow James Hutchinson on Twitter: @j_hutch

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAu

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