Will Apple sue Microsoft over Laptop Hunter ads?

A lawyer quoted in AdAge feels Apple has a good case against Microsoft over its Laptop Hunter campaign. The only question is whether Apple would actually gain anything from a lawsuit.

Back in May, my crystal ball twitched with wonderment at the idea that Microsoft might be feeling a frisson of excitement that Apple had decided to make an ad in response to Redmond's "Laptop Hunters" campaign.

I suggested that Microsoft executives would be dancing with fair glee and abandon.

It seems that, for once, my crystal ball may not have been full of Bay Area fog.

The revelation that Apple's lawyers allegedly called Microsoft to complain about the Laptop Hunters ads has brought much needed amusement to those who have not seen humor in quite some time.

Indeed, Friday, AdAge began to speculate as to whether Apple might become a Microsoft Hunter and drop a little lawsuit on Redmond's charmers.

The report quoted Michael McSunas, an attorney at Chambliss, Bahner and Stophel, who said that legally Apple "would have a leg to stand on."

McSunas continued: "If, indeed, you now can buy a MacBook for under $1,000, then [the 'Laptop Hunters' campaign] would be inaccurate and misleading."

But grinding your teeth and filing suit are two different things.

So McSunas speculated: "Apple seems to have this sort of cool image; I'd be surprised if they'd file suit on something like this...It would be bad publicity and only make people talk about Microsoft being more relevant."

Does having "this sort of cool image" really preclude Apple from suing or at least doing a little more than wearing black and looking superior?

There is precedent for ads being taken off air when the claims within them were no longer accurate. Chrysler, McSunas pointed out, persuaded Ford to remove an ad for its Freestar minivan in 2004.

But the truth is that in any kind of legal action, the PR is more important than the actual legal action.

If there is one area (and, of course, there are more) in which Apple is extremely talented, it is the area of making people feel exactly what the company wants them to feel.

If the company thought there might be PR value in publicly upbraiding Microsoft, you can be sure that it will lay the groundwork meticulously before delivering a nasty two-fingered jab just below the eyebrows.

It is one thing your lawyer calling Microsoft and telling the company to knock it off. It is something slightly different (and a lot more fun) when Redmond tries to make PR capital from your phone call.

Will Apple file suit? Unlikely. But will it let it all just bubble away like a virus on a cheap PC? Somehow, I doubt it.

 

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