Linklaters wins MasterCard work as banks switch over to Maestro

Linklaters' London office has advised on its first major piece of work from MasterCard Europe after winning a role on the rebranding of Switch debit cards as Maestro cards.
MasterCard Europe has licensed the Maestro brand to the group of 19 retail banks in the Switch scheme and will receive fees from Maestro card transactions carried out by the banks' customers in return.
Bird & Bird and Linklaters advised MasterCard Europe. Both firms were originally instructed on the deal by Europay International, which was subsequently acquired by MasterCard. Linklaters' London office won the work on a recommendation from its Brussels office.
Linklaters London intellectual property (IP) partner Roland Mallinson said: “We haven't done any significant work for Europay or MasterCard, its new owner, in London before, although Europay was a big client of our Brussels office.”
Linklaters provided IP, commercial and competition advice. Mallinson said: “To run a deal out of the IP department and bring competition and corporate lawyers in was unusual. Usually, the IP department will support the corporate department on a deal.”
Bird & Bird, which has a longstanding relationship with Europay, provided IT advice relating to how the new card transactions will be processed. Partner Nick Perry led the Bird & Bird team, which ran its negotiations in parallel with those of Linklaters.
Norton Rose completed the rebranding deal for the 19 banks, which include the Royal Bank of Scotland Group and HSBC. IP partner Richard Barratt led the team.
The banks will replace the Switch symbol with the Maestro brand globally. Although Switch is the UK's oldest debit card brand, it has little international recognition. The Maestro and Switch symbols will initially appear alongside each other before the Switch symbol is phased out completely by 2007.
“It is sad to see such a well-known brand disappear, but the move to Maestro should increase debit card use in the UK and internationally,” said Barratt.