AT&T files heavy-hitting answer to NASCAR appeal

series of consumer friendly moves to keep itself high in the minds of potential subscribers. If you remember, back on May 18, an injunction was issued that allowed AT&T to rebrand the No. 31 Cingular car with the updated AT&T logo. NASCAR, citing its exclusive telecommunications sponsorship deal with Sprint Nextel, filed for a quick appeal, which was denied on May 19. The appeal still stands, and is scheduled to be heard on August 2. AT&T filed their answer to the appeal late last week. Please note that it does not involve the $100 million countersuit filed by NASCAR, as that is a separate case altogether (one which AT&T really has yet to acknowledge). One key point, which we overlooked in our assessment, is that AT&T sells more products and services than Cingular. Why is this important? Well, Sprint Nextel offers telecommunications services. AT&T offers that — as they did as Cingular — and more. The “and more” is not regulated by Sprint Nextel’s exclusivity clause. That, we think, is a major point of this case. The answer also attempts to debunk NASCAR’s assertion that it can remove AT&T from the circuit to protect its main sponsor, Sprint Nextel. “Because NASCAR grandfathered [AT&T’s] and RCR’s sponsorship relationship and thereby promised ‘to preserve and protect’ [AT&T’s] sponsorship rights, … it cannot in good faith exercise any discretion that it may have under the Rule Book in derogation of that promise,” AT&T’s claim states. One of NASCAR’s main points in the appeal is that the rebranding of Cingular to AT&T limits its ability to govern the sport and sponsorships. AT&T claims that this is not the case — that NASCAR in fact still has the same ability it had at the time it signed the agreement with Sprint Nextel. “Nextel not only agreed to grandfather competitors but also acknowledged [in its NASCAR contract] that this grandfathering would limit the value of its exclusivity,” AT&T states in its filing. From what we’ve read, we like AT&T’s chances in this one. [NASCAR Scene]]]>

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