Court dismisses credit-reporting antitrust claims

Two of the three U.S. credit- reporting companies, TransUnion LLC and Experian PLC, won a court bid to dismiss antitrust claims filed by credit-score provider Fair Isaac Corp.

U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery in Minneapolis granted a motion July 24 to throw out Fair Isaac’s claims that TransUnion and Experian, along with Equifax Inc., tried to monopolize the credit-scoring market when they formed a joint venture and announced the VantageScore credit-reporting model in 2006.

The suit claimed the bureaus tried to use VantageScore to eliminate Fair Isaac’s FICO score, which it licenses to the three credit-reporting companies. Equifax settled the case on undisclosed terms in 2008.

In the decision, Montgomery also dismissed Fair Isaac’s contract and false advertising claims against TransUnion and Experian. She declined a request to dismiss claims the two credit-reporting companies violated Fair Isaac’s trademarks.

In a statement Monday, Fair Isaac, which now calls itself FICO, said it believes that “VantageScore remains an illegal presence in the market” and plans to appeal Monday’s decision after a trial on the remaining claims in the case.

Wis. court backs $5.6M fee award against Microsoft

An appeals court is ordering Microsoft Corp. to pay $5.6 million to a national law firm involved in a Wisconsin antitrust case against the software giant.

Zelle, Hofmann, Voelbel & Mason LLP represented consumers who bought Microsoft equipment in Wisconsin. A 2007 settlement required Microsoft to give customers vouchers up to $23 plus millions in technology reimbursements for public schools.

Microsoft claimed the firm should not receive any fees because its attorneys misrepresented hours they claimed to have worked. The firm denied that charge.

The District 1 Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that Microsoft must pay $4.2 million in fees for the original litigation, plus another $1.4 million for the subsequent fee dispute.

U.S. court revives antitrust suit on music downloads

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said a lower court judge erred in dismissing the complaint alleging violations of the federal Sherman Act in October 2008.

Among the named defendants in the case are Bertelsmann AG, EMI Group, Sony Corp, Time Warner Inc, Vivendi SA and Warner Music Group Corp or various affiliates.

The plaintiffs contended that record labels entered into joint ventures and licenses that had the effect of creating artificial price floors for downloaded music.

They also said that when competitors started to distribute the labels' music, the defendants "agreed" to a wholesale floor of about 70 cents per song, which were enforced in part through restrictive license agreements.

Writing for a three-judge panel, Circuit Judge Robert Katzmann said the plaintiffs' allegations are "sufficient to plausibly suggest" a conspiracy to fix prices.

Noting that the defendants control more than 80 percent of digital music sold to U.S. purchasers, the judge pointed to one commentator who concluded that "nobody in their right mind" would want to use two of the music services at issue.

He said this suggested "some form of agreement among defendants

Mitsubishi files antitrust suit against GE

Mitsubishi filed an antitrust lawsuit Thursday against General Electric Co., accusing the company of monopolizing part of the wind-turbine market and making "baseless" patent-infringement claims against Mitsubishi to gain a competitive edge.

The suit was filed in federal court in Arkansas, where Mitsubishi plans a $100 million wind turbine manufacturing plant. But the company said in its suit that GE's "improper conduct" is jeopardizing the plant's future because there is now little U.S. demand for Mitsubishi turbines.

"If GE is successful in its campaign to drive Mitsubishi out of the variable-speed wind turbine market, then our facility will have to sit idle," said Sonia Williams, counsel and spokeswoman for Mitsubishi. Construction on the plant is to begin in the fall and the plant is expected to build its first turbine in 2011.

Mitsubishi did not specify the damages it is seeking but said Thursday the amount would likely be more than $1 billion. The suit claims that GE's patents are invalid and that the company filed "sham lawsuits" as a marketing tool against Mitsubishi.

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