* Jury finds money transfer systems too similar
* Lawsuit begun in 2007
* MoneyGram backed in 2008 by Thomas H. Lee, Goldman Sachs
* Shares of MoneyGram fall
(Adds MoneyGram comment, updated shares)
NEW YORK, Sept 25 Western Union Co (WU.N), a
money transfer and payments company, said a federal jury in
Texas has ordered a unit of MoneyGram International Inc MGI.N
to pay it $16.5 million for patent infringement over a money
Western Union alleged that MoneyGram Payment Systems Inc's
"FormFree" system essentially copied its own patented "Money
Transfer By Phone" service. It said the systems involve the
staging of money transfers through call centers and completing
transactions at agent locations.
MoneyGram had argued that no reasonable jury could find
patent infringement, in part citing trial testimony by a
Western Union technical expert that it said showed the systems
were sufficiently different.
A spokeswoman, Lynda Michielutti, said MoneyGram is
disappointed with Thursday's verdict, and is reviewing its
options. "We firmly believe that the case is without merit, and
we believe we have a solid basis for appeal," she said.
Western Union sued MoneyGram in May 2007. Western Union is
based in Englewood, Colorado, and MoneyGram in Minneapolis.
Shares of MoneyGram fell 11 cents to $2.83 in afternoon
trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Last year, MoneyGram completed a recapitalization that
included investments from private equity firm Thomas H. Lee
Partners LP [THL.UL] and affiliates of Goldman Sachs Group Inc
In the first six months of 2009, MoneyGram posted a net
loss available to shareholders of $49.4 million, or 60 cents
per share, on net revenue of $330 million.
The case is Western Union Co v. MoneyGram International
Inc, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin),
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, editing by Dave Zimmerman and