Electronic Payment Systems LLC, an independent sales organization in Denver, said a federal judge has ruled that it owns a toll-free number now used by about 515,000 merchants processing with TSYS Acquiring Solutions.

The dedicated number would let EPS move its merchants to another processor should it decide to do that. EPS has about 56,000 merchants. The dispute between EPS and TSYS, a unit of Total System Services Inc. in Columbus, Ga., dates from 2005, when EPS migrated to the TSYS processing platform after the 2005 breach at CardSystems Solutions.

During that migration, EPS asked for a dedicated toll-free number for its merchants. When the TSYS deal went sour because of a pricing dispute, EPS wanted to retain the toll-free number.

TSYS contested that and sued in May in an Arizona U.S. District Court. Judge David G. Campbell ruled Nov. 9 that EPS is entitled to keep the number. A TSYS representative said the company does not comment on litigation.

EPS, however, is wasting no time in trying to retrieve the number.

Tom McCann, an EPS partner, sent a letter to TSYS Nov. 10 giving the company 90 days to revert the number solely to EPS' use.

"I sent them a demand for payment until they move the number," McCann said. "We will ask the court for the names and addresses of their merchants and start billing them for using our number until TSYS converts them."

TSYS could face a large expense in communicating to merchants not in the EPS portfolio that they must use a new number for TSYS.

Most EPS merchants continue to process with TSYS, something McCann said will continue at least until the toll-free number issue is resolved.