Meridian Enterprises Corp., Chase Manhattan Bank, and Shell Oil Co. have settled a patent dispute relating to rebate programs.

The settlement ends a five-year battle that Meridian waged with credit card issuers and their partners in the gasoline industry.

Chase and Shell were the last of 10 companies sued by Meridian, which invoked an 11-year-old patent on an electronic process for crediting rebates to cardholders' accounts.

Others that had settled with Meridian included Bank One Corp., GE Capital Services, Visa U.S.A., and MasterCard International.

Meridian executive vice president Michael L. Fraser said: "We are very pleased to have reached a mutually beneficial agreement. Meridian and Chase are now working as business partners to help build Chase's customers' loyalty."

Meridian's product, the MeridiCard system, lets cardholders earn rewards that can be electronically redeemed through MasterCard's and Visa's merchant networks.

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