American Telephone & Telegraph Co. will reluctantly give up the name Bell but will continue to call itself AT&T after the scheduled Jan. 1 divestiture of the local telephone companies.
In place of the familiar bell-shaped insignia, the company will use the AT&T monogram and a blue and white globe as its corporate signal, said AT&T Chairman Charles L. Brown.
Brown said AT&T will not contest the July 8 decision by U.S. District Judge Harold Greene that the Bell name must be turned over to the seven regional operating companies that will be formed when the Bell system is split apart.
"The decks are clear for completing the divestiture," Brown proclaimed at a press conference announcing the decision on the names and the resolution of several other issues that potentially stood in the way of the Bell breakup.
Securities analysts and other AT&T watchers agreed that the company had resolved key questions about the breakup's timing. "The major stumbling block to divestiture occuring on Jan. 1 has been removed," said Edward M. Greenberg, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. That view helped push AT&T stock up $2, closing at $62 3/4 in heavy trading.
Brown told reporters the company will rename its American Bell Inc. subsidiary AT&T Information Systems; its long-distance operation, AT&T Communications, and its consumer products, AT&T Consumer Products. Only the Bell Telephone Laboratories and some overseas operations will retain the Bell name.
Brown called the loss of the name--a move meant by Judge Greene to avoid consumer confusion over the structure of the phone company--"very significant. There is no mark like the Bell mark anywhere in the world. It's very important and we're very sorry to lose it."
But a court fight over the name would have "added years of uncertainty" to the decade of controversy surrounding AT&T's future shape, he added.
The company will market itself as AT&T, though it will not legally adopt the initials as the company name.
The actions stem from the Jan. 8, 1982, agreement with the Justice Department to end an eight-year government antitrust suit against AT&T by spinning off the 22 local operating companies. Those firms are forming seven regional entities and will be free to use the Bell name if they choose.
In addition to resolving the name issue, AT&T also agreed to a proposal by Judge Greene to grant the regional companies rights to sublicense AT&T patents. The company also accepted modifications of Greene's order designed to make certain that AT&T fairly shares the cost of revamping the telephone network to ensure that competing long-distance companies are provided adequate connections to local phone systems.