Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
prepaid, trademark, unlocking

Companies:
at&t, tracfone



AT&T Suing To Stop Prepaid Phone Unlocking, Resale

from the this-is-a-trademark-violation? dept

It's quite interesting to see the way companies misuse intellectual property law in order to try to prop up what is otherwise a weak business model. We've covered the case of Tracfone, a prepaid mobile phone company, who sells cheap phones hoping to make it up on the service fees. However, when an exception was added to the DMCA allowing phone unlocking, Tracfone flipped out. The company even went so far as to claim that unlocking mobile phones could represent a national security issue. Tracfone, though, is a rather small player in the space. It turns out that AT&T is joining in on the fun and suing to stop prepaid phone unlocking. The company is not going after individual unlockers, but the bulk unlockers. What's interesting, though, is that the lawsuit appears to be over the issue of trademark violation. Why this isn't just a contractual issue isn't clear -- but it seems strange to make it a trademark issue. However, again, all this really shows is that the business model around prepaid phones, relying on subsidized phones, isn't a particularly good one. That's no reason to sue or pass laws that protect it, though.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Roy, 14 Oct 2008 @ 7:01pm

    TracFone or AT&T?

    Look at my video showing a side by side comparison of my iPhone and my TracFone... Go figure.

    My AT&T service (Cingular when I started it in March 2002) was so bad and unreliable, I had to purchase a TracFone as a backup. My mom was in Hospice, and I needed to be in touch 27-7... The TracFone was flawless and got "bars" everywhere.

    My TracFone/AT&T "shootout can be seen by typing in my "name" ROYINTEXAS on YouTube.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.