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Heartland, VeriFone Food Fight Flares Up Again

November 12th, 2009

There’s more of this saga, but I should point out—fair is fair, after all—that VeriFone has routinely talked with us by phone while Heartland has stuck with E-mailed questions and answers. Not sure what that ultimately reveals, but it’s always a credibility boost when a vendor answers unfiltered and in real time. Anyway, back to the show.

On Wednesday (Nov. 11), Heartland issued a statement saying that on Monday (Nov. 9), a federal judge “granted Heartland Payment Systems’ application for an order to show cause against VeriFone Holdings Inc. The return date for an expedited hearing on Heartland’s injunction on its Lanham Act false-advertising claims was set for December 7, 2009. No motion to transfer these claims to the Northern District of California as requested by VeriFone was granted at the hearing.” The headline on this release said “Federal Court Grants Heartland Payment Systems’ Application For An Order To Show Cause Against VeriFone.”

Sounds like Heartland won that hearing, right? Not quite. Not at all, in fact. Heartland was asking U.S. District Court Judge Mary Cooper to issue a temporary restraining order against VeriFone and the judge refused. Indeed, she said that the two firms can have discovery exchanges before the hearing and also penned in “to be supervised by the magistrate judge.” (Yep, this judge knows when adult supervision is needed.)

In addition, Heartland’s statement mentioned this line: “VeriFone took down the Web site that was using the Heartland name to lure Heartland customers.” That statement was, in fact, not true; the Web site is definitely still up and referencing Heartland. But the plot thickens.

What VeriFone did change was the site’s URL. Asked why the URL had been changed from to, VeriFone’s Bartolik initially said simply that the company likes that URL better. After some prodding, he said, “Even though there was no risk of confusion of who was operating the URL, we voluntarily changed the URL address to avoid any frivolous dispute over the Heartland tradename.”

We’re not so sure that a judge would view putting Heartland’s name in a URL to steal customers from Heartland as that frivolous, but no matter. That URL change might also be why Heartland’s version of the judge’s statement may be a bit more truthful than it may initially have seemed. If part of Heartland’s interest in the temporary restraining order was that the URL be changed, VeriFone’s surrender on that point may have lessened the need for that order. As a practical matter, the TRO attempt was more likely trying to halt the entire situation. But if a changed URL is all you’re offered, it’s better than nothing.

An E-mail from Heartland late Wednesday (Nov. 11) said: “Heartland was asking for a temporary restraining order against the VeriFone Web site that used the Heartland name, and that was publicized by VeriFone in its press release. The Web site using the Heartland name was taken down by VeriFone.” We’re not so sure that changing the URL is the same as taking down the Web site. The old Web site—courtesy of Google cache—and the current Web site look fairly identical to us.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode in this exciting melodrama. (If Carol Burnett hadn’t called her soap opera “As The Stomach Turns,” that’s the name I’d have opted for.)


One Comment | Read Heartland, VeriFone Food Fight Flares Up Again

  1. A Long Time Ago Says:

    The software referred to is from Lipman (Nurit)
    Before Verifone bought them, Heartland did business with them.
    Heartlands “Exchange” processing platform bought the rights to use the source code, all of it.
    This should be said to truly educate about the history.
    And if this proves true, Heartland is in the right.


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