The Apple lawyers who contacted Microsoft's CEO and demanded that the Vole pull its "Laptop Hunters" advert might not have been joking after all.
Last week Microsoft revealed how Apple's legal eagles had decided that the best way to stop Microsoft telling the world plus dog how expensive its gizmos are was to threaten it with a writ.
Microsoft apparently was so amused that it released the details of the threat online.
Apple's solicitors said that the adverts had to be pulled because they were inaccurate and the outfit had knocked a hundred bucks off its hardware lineup. Now a Mac was as cheap as chips.
Of course the machines are still the most expensive on the market for what you get and so Microsoft was still giggling.
Well, now Advertising Age reports that Apple might have been serious about its threat all along. Its hacks dug up Michael McSunas, an attorney at Chambliss, Bahner and Stophel, who said that legally Apple "would have a leg to stand on."
His argument was that if you can buy a MacBook for under $1,000, then the 'Laptop Hunters' campaign would be "inaccurate and misleading". Of course the fact that the lowest priced Mac sells for $999, just one buck under $1,000, is neither here nor there.
There is precedent for ads having been taken off the air when their claims were no longer accurate. Chrysler forced Ford to remove an ad for its Freestar minivan in 2004, McSunas said.
Most analysts think it would be very stupid for Apple to go down this line. It would lead to more people talking about the Vole's "Laptop Hunters" adverts and the fact that PCs are cheaper than Macs.
A smart lawyer might also call into question Apple's own misrepresentation of PCs in its advertisements. If you believed Apple's famous "I am Mac, I am PC" adverts: Macs have embedded webcams, PCs don't; Macs don't have any security vulnerabilities, PCs do; Macs have all-in-one models, PCs don't; Macs make good home movies, PCs can't; Macs have better device support than PCs (despite supporting far fewer devices); Macs have automatic backup, PCs don't. And so on....
In short, Apple seems to think it's okay for it to stretch the truth to the breaking point while Microsoft is not allowed a dollar's leeway.
If Apple actually goes ahead and sues Microsoft over these adverts, the world plus dog might figure out that there's a humourless, uncool company that "can't stand one bit of competition" even more than Microsoft.