Court dismisses FICO’s antitrust and false advertising challenges to VantageScore, narrows trademark claim

On 24 July, the United States District Court in Minneapolis dismissed the antitrust and false advertising claims asserted by FICO against Experian, Trans Union, and VantageScore Solutions LLC in connection with the introduction and sale of the VantageScore scoring system. These claims had constituted the substantial majority of FICO’s claims in the lawsuit.

Although the Court will allow FICO’s claim for trademark infringement to go to trial, it ruled in the defendants’ favour on a crucial legal issue with respect to that claim. In addition, at the trial, Experian will present its counterclaim (which was not affected by the Court’s ruling) that FICO committed fraud in applying for its trademark.

“We are delighted that the Court dismissed FICO’s antitrust and false advertising claims,” said Kerry Williams, Group President of Credit Services and Decision Analytics at Experian. “It has always been our position that FICO’s claims were without merit and were filed with the anticompetitive goal of perpetuating FICO’s long-time dominance in credit scoring and eliminating new competition brought by VantageScore. We are particularly gratified that the Court found that VantageScore represented ‘the very essence of competition.’”

“The Court’s ruling represents a victory not only for Experian and its co-defendants but also for customers, consumers and competition in the credit scoring market,” said Williams. “VantageScore has introduced innovation, choice, and competition into a marketplace that long had been dominated by FICO.”

VantageScore is the credit reporting industry’s first credit score developed jointly by the three national credit reporting companies to deliver consistent, objective credit scores across their respective databases. By combining cutting-edge, patent-pending analytic techniques with a highly intuitive scale for scoring, VantageScore provides consumers and businesses with a highly predictive, consistent score that is easy to understand and apply. VantageScore utilizes a range from 501 to 990 that naturally aligns with well-known A, B, C, D and F grade intervals.

Despite FICO’s attempt to use this lawsuit to stall the adoption of VantageScore, more and more lenders are using VantageScore including four of the top five US financial institutions and eight of the top 10 credit card issuers. In addition, two of the three major credit rating agencies – Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings – recently announced that they will accept VantageScore in their rating models.

“The numbers prove that customers are pleased to have choice in the credit scoring marketplace,” added Williams.

About Experian

Experian is a global leader in providing information, analytical and marketing services to organizations and consumers to help manage the risk and reward of commercial and financial decisions.

Combining its unique information tools and deep understanding of individuals, markets and economies, Experian partners with organizations around the world to establish and strengthen customer relationships and provide their businesses with competitive advantage.

For consumers, Experian delivers critical information that enables them to make financial and purchasing decisions with greater control and confidence. Clients include organizations from financial services, retail and catalogue, telecommunications, utilities, media, insurance, automotive, leisure, e-commerce, manufacturing, property and government sectors.

Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Experian has corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, and has operational headquarters in Costa Mesa, Calif., and Nottingham, UK. The Group employs approximately 15,000 people in 40 countries worldwide, supporting clients in more than 65 countries around the world. Total Group revenue for the year ended 31 March 2009, was $3.9 billion.

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