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Ticketmaster vs. Stubhub

In a ticket industry cluttered with primary and secondary sales, pre-sales and resales, market heavyweights are increasingly worried about protecting their territory.  In effort to reassert its dominance, IAC’s Ticketmaster filed several lawsuits during the past week.

Most notable  of the suits was a complaint filed against eBay’s Stubhub. It was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last Wednesday. That complaint alleges that Stubhub, an auction reseller of tickets, has repeatedly interfered with contracts that typically grant Ticketmaster exclusive rights to sell tickets for events to the general public. 

The complaints specific focuse is on actions relating to the Rowdy Frynds Tour for which Stubhub has advertised that it would offer front-row seats via auction for  up to 100 seats in the first 10 rows for all 20 show dates.   

According to Ticketmaster, these seats should not have been available to Stubhub.  Stubhub used improper tactics to gain access to the seats which contractually should have been part of Ticketmaster’s inventory.  The suit also claims this behavior is "part of a larger scheme to diminish Ticketmaster’s role in the sale of tickets"  put forth over the past two years.  It alleges that Stubhub would inappropriately acquire tickets through direct negotiations with artists, or by threatening venues with the prospect of lost future business if seats were not made available.

Stubhub is proclaiming its innocence while Ticketmaster is snarling.  Part of the issue at stake is reputation. Stubhub, which was rolled into eBay in February at the completion of a $310 million deal, markets itself as an  online marketplace for  fans to buy and sell tickets at "fair market value."  That, according to Ticketmaster, is a direct assault on its reputation as the purveyor of the “Best Seats Available.” 

The other suits filed targeted companies and individuals who were using automation tools, in violation of Ticketmaster terms of service and possibly Federal computer crime laws,  to increase their access or allotment of tickets for popular shows that they could then make available for resale.

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