Trial of Antitrust Claims Against Avaya to Begin in September
CAMDEN, NJ, Aug 12, 2013 (Marketwired via COMTEX) — Seven years, three federal judges, and tens of millions of dollars later, the marathon antitrust battle between 300-employee Continuant and the 14,000-employee Avaya will soon be tried in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Jury selection in the long-awaited trial is scheduled to begin September 9, 2013.
The legal dispute between Continuant — an independent voice and data system service and maintenance provider based in Tacoma, Washington — and the $5.5 billion Silicon Valley-based telephone system manufacturer, boils down to a simple issue: whether an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) can force system owners to buy maintenance from the OEM or an OEM-controlled provider for the long life of the system and deprive the owners of the right to choose an independent service provider. Continuant alleges that Avaya has attempted to monopolize the market for post-warranty maintenance and repair of its own telephone systems, often to the customer’s detriment.
Continuant was previously the maintenance and support division of Telecom Labs Inc (TLI), which got its start selling business telephone systems in 1996. Continuant has continued to fight for customer choice, even after Avaya told its own customers that it would turn off their access to Maintenance Commands if the Avaya system owners purchased maintenance from an independent service provider instead of Avaya or an Avaya-controlled BusinessPartner.
Continuant has won the support of two influential trade groups, the 160-member Service Industry Association (SIA) and the 500-member Association of Service and Computer Dealers International-North American Association of Telecom Dealers (ASCDI-NATD), who view the antitrust case as precedent-setting.
“Avaya’s actions are much like Ford telling a customer that they will lock the hood of the car if the customer goes to Jiffy Lube for service,” said Gay Gordon-Byrne, Executive Director of the Digital Right to Repair Coalition, an organization that the SIA created in January 2013 to protect the rights of consumers and businesses.
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