Two of the three U.S. credit-reporting companies, TransUnion LLC and Experian PLC, won the dismissal of antitrust claims filed in federal court by the Minneapolis credit-score provider Fair Isaac Corp.

Judge Ann Montgomery of the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis granted a motion last week to throw out Fair Isaac’s claim that Trans-Union and Experian, along with Equifax Inc., tried to monopolize the credit-scoring market by forming a joint venture and announcing the VantageScore credit-reporting model in 2006 in an effort to compete against Fair Isaac’s popular FICO score product.  “A strategy of persuading the market that one product is equal or superior to another product and that the price of the first product presents a higher value proposition than does the second is the very nature of competition,” Judge Montgomery wrote in a 52-page opinion.  In her decision Judge Montgomery also dismissed Fair Isaac’s contract and false-advertising claims against TransUnion and Experian. She declined a request to dismiss claims that the two credit-reporting companies violated Fair Isaac’s trademarks.

Fair Isaac claimed the three credit bureaus illegally tried to use VantageScore to eliminate its FICO score, which it licenses to the companies.

Equifax was not included because it agreed to settle the case on undisclosed terms in 2008 and entered into a partnership with Fair Isaac.

“VantageScore has introduced innovation, choice and competition into a marketplace that long had been dominated by FICO,” Kerry Williams, Experian’s group president of credit services and decision analytics, said in a press release Monday.

Fair Isaac said in a press release that it believes “VantageScore remains an illegal presence in the market” and plans to appeal the decision after trial of the remaining claims in the case.

Source:  American Banker 2009-07-31

BIIA Newsletter September 2009 Issue