Bitter rivals IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) and the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) had a public spat last week over a judge’s decision in their legal dispute over ICE’s use of Nymex settlement prices in ICE over-the-counter (OTC) contracts.
The parties apparently couldn’t agree on whether Judge John G. Koetl’s order dismissing without prejudice several of ICE’s counterclaims against Nymex was detrimental to ICE’s case. ICE said ‘no’ and Nymex said ‘yes.’ Whatever the result may be, there’s little doubt that this battle is far from over.
The legal dispute between the two energy exchange giants grew out of the ashes of EnronOnline. ICE emerged as a significant presence in the over-the-counter exchange arena after EOL crashed and burned. And feeling its dominance might be threatened, Nymex threw a punch.
On Nov. 20, 2002, Nymex filed a lawsuit that charged ICE with copyright infringement for using its settlement prices in some of its OTC contracts (see NGI, Nov. 25, 2002). ICE then countersued Nymex for abuse of monopoly power and charged that Nymex had publicized false statements about the ability of traders to engage in wash or round-trip trades on the ICE platform (see NGI, Jan. 13).
Last week, the judge in the case dismissed several of ICE’s counterclaims but left open the possibility that ICE can refile amended counterclaims. ICE said there is no doubt it will do so with new information regarding changes in Nymex’s “relevant monopoly market.”
However, Nymex publicly stated last week that the judge made his decision after rejecting the merits of ICE’s case.
“The statements made by Nymex indicating that the judge had made any rulings on the merits of the case are absolutely false and misleading,” said ICE CEO Jeffrey C. Sprecher in a press release. “The case is ongoing and the merits will be determined in due course.”
An ICE spokesperson said the judge’s decision was merely procedural. “For either party to claim this” is over already is ludicrous.
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