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Found this press release interesting. One independent publisher is suing another in federal court for allegedly copying ads for a competing publication. This is not such a big deal as a business dispute, but it does offer a small glimpse into how the directory world is changing in the United States.

There was a time when these things didn’t happen between independents (or if so, rarely) because independents did not compete as fiercely with one another as they did with incumbent publishers. I used to hear independent publishers say they would not launch a product in competition with another independent as a matter of principal. They didn’t all say this, of course, but almost no one says it now.

With so many markets having so many competitors, the era of gentlemen’s agreements between independent publishers would appear to be ending, if it isn’t already over. We expect to see more sharp elbows being thrown among independents, and sometimes this may take the form of litigation. Independent publishers got where they are (and where they are is wealthy, at least in many cases) by being tough, aggressive competitors that don’t let themselves get pushed around. That won’t stop because the competition is now another independent instead of the evil empire (i.e., a big phone company publisher).

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