Northwest Airlines is suing its longtime partner, U.S. Bank, in an escalating battle over credit card holders and frequent flyer miles.
Northwest Airlines is going away -- as it is being gradually absorbed by its new owner, Delta Airlines. And WorldPerks is going away, too.
Delta will replace Northwest's WorldPerks credit-card program with Delta's existing American Express's mileage rewards cards. WorldPerks was set to expire in August.
U.S. Bank lost its bid to issue the replacement card, so it's now offering its current WorldPerks customers a new "FlexPerks card," which also offers free travel.
In the lawsuit, Northwest alleges U.S. Bank "intends to capitalize on the goodwill associated with the WorldPerks card and the Northwest brand by giving its competing offering a confusingly similar name -- FlexPerks."
The lawsuit seeks to prevent U.S. Bank from awarding WorldPerks card holders any incentive other than WorldPerks miles, It also wants to prevent U.S. Bank from using the FlexPerks name for its incentive program.
The stakes are high. The two companies are battling to win a place in the wallets of 1 million current WorldPerks cardholders.
A U.S. Bank statement expressed surprise and disappointment at the lawsuit. Officials say they are confident the bank is acting within its rights.