Firm Files Class-Action Antitrust Suit Concerning the Licensing of CUSIP Identifiers

The Firm filed a class-action antitrust suit on behalf of Hildene Capital Management, LLC (“Hildene) against the American Bankers Association (“ABA”), FactSet Research Systems Inc. (“FactSet”), and S&P Global, Inc. (“S&P”), alleging that defendants engaged in anticompetitive conduct in the market for financial instruments identifiers.

The case arises from the defendants’ alleged conspiracy to maintain S&P’s (and now FactSet’s) monopoly power and unreasonably restrain trade in the financial instruments identification market in violation of Section 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1, 2. The complaint alleges that the purpose of the conspiracy was to extract artificially inflated payments from investors, and other users of financial data, through subscription agreements to access CUSIP numbers, which are the designated standard financial instruments identifiers. Hildene and the class receive no financial data services from defendants; but rather obtain financial data from other sources that necessarily include CUSIP numbers. Plaintiff alleges that members of the class were required to pay prices unilaterally determined by defendants not because there is anything special or valuable about the string of numbers and letters that comprise CUSIPs, but simply because CUSIPs have been designated as the standard. The complaint also accuses the defendants of committing unfair business practices under the laws of the States of New York and Connecticut, breach of contract against S&P for violation of its agreement to charge fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory prices for access to CUSIP numbers, and a declaratory judgment that Hildene’s download and use of CUSIP identifiers constitutes a “fair use” that does not infringe ABA's or any other defendant's purported intellectual property rights.

The action was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, captioned as Hildene Capital Management, LLC, on behalf of itself and all others similarly situated v. American Bankers Association, et. al., 22-cv-1929 (S.D.N.Y.). The complaint is available here.