An anonymous reader quotes a report from Computerworld: A federal judge has ruled it is plausible that four national credit-card companies improperly conspired "in lockstep" to set a deadline of Oct. 1, 2015 for requiring retailers to upgrade their technology to accept embedded chip cards for credit and debit card purchases. In an order issued Friday (Case number C 16-01150 WHA), U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup agreed with two small Florida businesses -- B and R Supermarket and Grove Liquors -- which brought the lawsuit in March. Alsup's ruling also allows the antitrust case against Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover Financial Services to move forward in federal court for the Northern District of California. The two retailers are seeking to create a class-action case involving millions of small retailers who have been required under the Oct. 1, 2015 deadline to assume liability for fraudulent card charges if they haven't upgraded to the more-secure chip card technology instead of magnetic-stripe cards. The retailers believe there was industry conspiracy over creation of the deadline that violates fair trade practices. In the same ruling, the judge allowed two other retailers -- Los Angeles-based gourmet food chain Monsieur Marcel and New York-based grocery story chain Fine Fare -- to intervene in the case. Lawyers for the retailers have said a class-action lawsuit could include 8 million U.S. small businesses. They would seek repayment of the cost of upgrading to chip card readers and related software, estimated at $6 billion. However, the National Retail Federation has recently estimated the total cost of the conversion in the U.S. at up to $35 billion.