Fair Isaac Loses a Round in Court

Mortgage & Real Estate

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has rejected an appeal from Fair Isaac Corp., Minneapolis, letting stand a judge’s ruling dismissing some of its claims before trial against VantageScore Solutions, Stamford, Conn., and Experian, Costa Mesa, Calif.

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The court also upheld a jury verdict against FICO on the claims that went to trial in November 2009.

In the latest decision, Judge Roger Wollman writes, “FICO’s alleged damages—losses stemming from VantageScore’s mere existence in the market and from FICO lowering its prices to compete—do not constitute antitrust injury.”

The appellate court also found that the decision from the November 2009 trial that cancelled FICO’s trademark on its numerical score scale because it is “merely descriptive” was correct. Therefore the cancellation remains in place and VantageScore is free to use its own numerical scoring scale.

The ruling also upheld the use of Experian’s PLUS Score model, which has a range of 330 to 830.
FICO’s only victory in the decision was the appellate court upheld the lower court ruling denying VantageScore and Experian legal fees.

A spokesman for FICO sent along the following statement: “Although our efforts thus far have not resulted in a favorable legal settlement, they have helped to advance the important national issue of transparency and fairness when consumers obtain their credit scores. At a time when consumers most need clarity regarding their creditworthiness, it’s imperative that they understand whether the credit scores they purchase are FICO scores, which are used by most lenders to make lending decisions, or merely look-alike scores not actually used by lenders to make lending decisions.”

The statement added that the ruling will have little impact on FICO’s business and that it continues to evaluate its options in this litigation.

In a press release, VantageScore Solutions president and chief executive Barrett Burns said, “I am extremely gratified to put this lawsuit behind us and I look forward to an open market free from the encumbrance of litigation.”

Kerry Williams, group president, Experian Credit Services and Decision Analytics, North America, said in a separate press release “this decision further confirms that VantageScore and PLUS Score have introduced positive competition into the marketplace, which ultimately benefits consumers of credit scoring services.”

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