The following announcement is based on an internal note to American Express employees from Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer:
It’s important to fight for what you believe is right, and it’s especially gratifying when your voice is heard. American Express earned a major victory today when a court of appeals ruled unanimously in our favor in the U.S. Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit. This ruling reverses an earlier trial court’s judgment against us and directs that court to enter judgment in favor of American Express.
Throughout a long and complex legal process that dates back to 2010, we have fought for the right to protect American Express and our Card Members from discrimination at the point of sale. Under the terms of our contracts, merchants who choose to accept American Express agree to provide welcome acceptance when a customer presents their card to make purchases. The Justice Department has sought to abolish these protections, which, they believe, hinder competition. The court of appeals definitively rejected this position.
As we have consistently maintained, we do not believe the previous trial court ruling would have provided any benefit to consumers. Instead, it would have harmed competition by further entrenching the two dominant networks – Visa and MasterCard. It is unfair to allow merchants who have agreed to honor our cards to then discriminate against American Express and our Card Members, and it is fundamentally unfair to interfere with consumers’ rights to choose how they want to pay.
We have to realize that this fight may not be over. The Justice Department may decide to appeal this decision. But, we are excited about the clear and unmistakable message that the appellate court sent today, and we stand ready to continue the fight if need be.For now, let’s just say we are very satisfied with this significant win.