Appeals Court Rejects FICO Suit Against VantageScore
MINNEAPOLIS – A U.S. Appeals Court upheld a lower court ruling rejecting claims by FICO that a new credit score developed by credit bureaus Experian, Equifax and TransUnion infringed on its trademark and ordered the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel a FICO trademark.
VantageScore Solutions, LLC, a joint venture of the three credit bureaus, announced that a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld an earlier ruling and described the decision as “a complete court victory.”
The case stems back to 2006, when FICO filed a suit accusing its competitors’ new credit-scoring system as being too similar to its own and claiming that it violated one of the company’s trademarks. FICO lost its trademark suit in November 2009, at which time a jury found that VantageScore’s 501–990 credit-score range was not confusingly similar to FICO’s system, which has a credit-score range of between 300 and 850.
FICO sought a new trial, but a U.S. District Court judge denied the request in May 2010. The judge also ordered the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel FICO’s “300-850” trademark after the company’s appeal was concluded.
FICO said it is evaluating its options and that the decision will have little impact on its business. “These lookalike scores can differ significantly from a consumer’s actual FICO Score, misleading consumers into believing they have higher or lower FICO scores than actually is the case,” the company said. “As recent economic events have demonstrated, consumers need clarity about their creditworthiness now more than ever.”