Antitrust Claims to be Allowed at Trial
TRENTON, N.J., Jan. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Continuant, the nation’s leading independent telecom service provider, has won another legal victory in its five-year battle with Avaya for consumer choice.
New Jersey Federal District Court Judge Garrett E. Brown has denied Avaya’s two Motions for Summary Judgment seeking to dismiss Continuant’s claims that Avaya’s business practices violate US antitrust laws. Announced on January 26, this most recent ruling paves the way for the issue to be decided at trial.
(Because Judge Brown filed the opinion accompanying his ruling under temporary seal, details of his decision are not yet publicly available.)
This is the third time since Continuant filed its federal counter-complaint in 2006 that the Court has ruled in favor of Continuant and allowed the bulk of its antitrust claims to proceed over Avaya’s objection. As a result, Continuant will have the opportunity to present to a jury its claim that Avaya has “aggressively sought and maintained a monopolistic stranglehold” on purchasers of its telecom equipment by denying their right to select the service provider of their choice.
Continuant CEO Doug Graham said Continuant is pleased that the Court “let stand the heart of our antitrust case,” adding that with this most recent ruling, “we are now one step closer to restoring choice and competition to the marketplace—which has been our goal all along. This lawsuit is all about choice. A win by Continuant is a win for all Avaya system owners because they will then be free to hire the maintenance and support provider of their choice.”
Joe Marion, Executive Director of the North American Association of Telecommunications Dealers, described Judge Brown’s ruling as a victory for consumers and industry. “We applaud Continuant for fighting for American businesses and consumers. A manufacturer should not be able to restrict a customer’s choice as to who maintains their equipment just by virtue of the fact that the product includes software. Whether you are a business or an individual, you should have the right to decide who services the product you have purchased— whether it’s your phone system, your computer or your car. That’s what’s at stake in this lawsuit,” Marion said.
This is the latest in a series of losses for Avaya in this case.
In August 2008, the Court denied a similar Avaya Motion to Dismiss Continuant’s antitrust counterclaims. In November 2011, the Court dismissed with prejudice portions of Avaya’s claims against Continuant, ruling that Continuant did not violate or circumvent two sections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by accessing Avaya’s PBX software. Also in November 2011, the Court entered an order, on consent, dismissing with prejudice all of Avaya’s claims related solely to Avaya’s PDS systems.