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Heartland Payment Systems Files Antitrust Suit Against Competitors

Heartland Payment Systems, a card processing and payments solutions provider, has filed a law suit against rival processors alleging anti-competitive practices. The suit, filed in United States District Court in New Jersey, alleges MICROS Systems, Merchant Link and Chase Paymentech have caused increased processing prices for table-service restaurants through an anti-competitive tying arrangement which violates the Sherman Antitrust Act and New Jersey's unfair competition laws.

The suit seeks a permanent injunction against the tying arrangements that exist between MICROS and Merchant Link. The tying arrangement forces independent competitors to pay for the use of Merchant Link's gateway in order to process credit and debit card payments on the MICROS point-of-sale (POS) platform.

In the complaint, Heartland claims that MICROS forces all restaurants using its POS systems to agree to use Merchant Link as the exclusive gateway for credit and debit card processing. Additionally, all card processors to pay a fee to Merchant Link for connecting to the MICROS POS and the company allegedly receives a percentage of the revenues Merchant Link generates. The suit alleges this tying arrangement is illegal and anticompetitive - and artificially inflates card processing costs for all table-service restaurants that utilize MICROS POS systems. The complaint alleges that when selling its POS systems, MICROS and its dealers do not disclose all the costs associated with the Merchant Link tie to restaurateurs. As a result, restaurateurs end up paying inflated costs - with no ability to use alternate vendors.

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