Ticket reseller StubHub was dealt a surprising blow Thursday when a judge threw out an antitrust lawsuit it brought against the Golden State Warriors and Ticketmaster.
U.S. District Judge Maxine M. Chesney concluded in her decision that StubHub's arguments that the Warriors and Ticketmaster had conspired to fix the resale marketplace were unfounded. StubHub alleged that the Warriors created illegal market conditions by telling their season-ticket holders to resell their tickets only through Ticketmaster and marketing that buying in any other venue was unsafe.
After Ticketmaster signed on as the Warriors' exclusive resale partner in 2012, a contract StubHub itself had the opportunity to win, StubHub noticed its Warriors business was declining. The next year, StubHub said, its data showed there were 80 percent fewer Warriors tickets on its site and that sales for the team's games dropped by 45 percent.
In filing to dismiss the case in May, the Warriors said fans agree to terms and conditions, which set forth the rules of having a ticket license with the team.
Chesney said StubHub's entire case as presented relied on its argument that the primary and resale markets are two separate markets that are being tied together, something she says is not established by legal precedent. And while the Warriors do exert some control over their product, it's not unlike any company that wishes to sell what it makes.
"The native monopoly every manufacturer has in the production and sale of its own product cannot be the basis for antitrust liability," Chesney wrote.
Chesney also dismissed StubHub's contention that the Warriors were the only product available because they were the only professional team in the Bay Area.
"StubHub will decide in the coming days what next steps it will take to protect competition and provide fans of the Warriors with the opportunity to use the secondary ticket exchange of their choice," company spokesman Glenn Lehrman said in a statement.
StubHub has until the end of the month to file an amended complaint.
The case is one of the most high-profile the ticketing world has seen because it involves two juggernauts -- eBay's StubHub and Ticketmaster -- and the team that could very well have the most coveted ticket in sports. Some industry observers were eager to see the case go to trial to test, for the first time, whether the fan or the team owns the right to the ticket and whether teams can legally restrict fans to venues for reselling their seats.