Who Really Owns Your Leafs Tickets? – Part 2

On June 25, 2015, I posted an article concerning the lawsuit in the US between StubHub, eBay’s secondary ticket marketplace, and Ticketmaster and the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

As I had indicated, the Warriors had hired Ticketmaster to be its official, primary and secondary ticketing partner.

In the lawsuit, StubHub, a secondary ticketing marketer used by people to resell their tickets to events that they cannot attend, alleged that the Warriors had essentially created illegal market conditions by requiring their season ticketholders to resell their tickets only through Ticketmaster. As a result, StubHub noticed a significant decline in the number of Warriors’ tickets available for sale on its site.

The lawsuit was brought under US anti-trust legislation. As I had indicated, it raised the interesting question as to whether or not a ticket to a sporting event is owned by the fan purchasing the ticket, or the team.

In any event, the lawsuit has now been dismissed at a preliminary motion. The judge was satisfied with the Warriors’ argument that when fans buy a ticket, they agree to the terms and conditions that set out the rules of having a ticket licence with the team.  The judge felt that while the Warriors do exert some control over their product, that is not unlike any company that wants to sell what it makes.  The judge specifically indicated that “the native monopoly every manufacturer has in the production and sale of its own product cannot be the basis for anti-trust liability”.

It is open to StubHub to reformulate its position by amending its claim to take another run at it. In the meantime, however, it would appear from this decision that teams do have the right to dictate what happens to tickets to their home games even after the tickets are sold.

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