The Common Application has just received a major setback in its three-year legal battle with CollegeNet, a software development company that creates web-based college applications.
On Oct. 23, CollegeNET won the appeal of an earlier ruling dismissing its claims that the Common App was running "collusive cartel" in the admissions industry
On Oct. 23, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an earlier 2015 ruling by a federal court in Portland that dismissed CollegeNet's complaint. Legal proceedings that have cost both sides millions of dollars will now continue.
Penn Dean of Admissions Eric Furda confirmed that he received Rickard's email, but would not comment on the ongoing lawsuit. Furda served as chair-elect of the Common App board of directors when CollegeNet's initial lawsuit was filed.
Representatives from the Common App would not respond to requests for comment, instead pointing to Rickard's email as their final word on the subject.
In the lawsuit, CollegeNet alleged that some of Common App's policies, including one that charges member schools at lower rates if they only accept the Common App and one "equal treatment provisions" policy that bars schools that accept multiple applications from having an explicit preference, has cost its company more than 200 college customers in the last 10-15 years.
Common App Director and 2009 Graduate School of Education doctoral graduate Jenny Rickard sent an email to the more than 700 member colleges of the Common App expressing her disappointment.
"Our non-profit membership association has spent several million dollars defending itself against these frivolous claims by a for-profit, privately-held company," Rickard wrote.
Rickard wrote that she would prefer these legal fees go toward expanding the Common App's "outreach and access programs."
Susan Foster is a partner at the law firm Perkins Coie, the firm which represented CollegeNet.
“We are, of course, pleased with the unanimous Ninth Circuit verdict," Foster said. "We look forward to pursuing the case and restoring competition and innovation to the market.”
The New York Times recently revealed that Perkins Coie was paid millions by the Hillary Clinton campaign to obtain opposition research on the Trump campaign, including the controversial "Russian dossier."
The Common App chose to seek additional legal counsel beyond its liability insurance, adding to its legal fees.
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