At the outset of today’s post, we note the central cast of characters in an Arizona-based business litigation dispute that is both singular and escalating.
In one corner resides Cox Communications Inc., an irate company in a litigious mode that is clearly irked by what it regards as illegal action taken by government officials that is harming its business interests.
In the other corner is Google Fiber, an arm of Google Inc. Although Google is prominently noted in a lawsuit filed by Cox, it is not a formal party in the federal commercial litigation and is seemingly quite happy with the status quo.
And then there is the municipality of Tempe, which is the named defendant in the case. Tempe is unquestionably on the defensive.
What’s it all about?
Cox is a large national purveyor of digital cable television and Internet services and a direct competitor of Google Fiber. It has been in a protracted contest with the latter company to secure a license with Tempe to provide the city with high-speed Internet service.
Cox officials say that, while Tempe awarded both Cox and Google with licenses, the agreement that city officials inked with Google places far fewer restrictions on that company than is the case with the exactions posed for Cox.
In other words, Cox contends in its federal complaint filed against Tempe last month, the city is “establishing a discriminatory regulatory framework” that unduly burdens Cox and renders it easier for Google to establish a foothold and gain business traction.
That’s unfair and illegal, Cox principals contend, and they seek a permanent injunction against Google’s license grant for the alleged “unique benefit” it confers on Google to the detriment of other business competitors.
Unsurprisingly, the municipality argues that its license grant was reasonable and nondiscriminatory.
The court will obviously weigh in on that. We’ll keep readers duly posted on the outcome.
Source: Phoenix Business Journal, “Cox Communications files lawsuit against Tempe for favoring Google Fiber” Cassidy Trowbridge, Sept. 24, 2015 (updated Sept. 25, 2015)
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