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Viagogo may be forced to release names of RFU ticket resellers

By Jean Henegan

The ongoing litigation between secondary ticketing website viagogo and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) is heading to the Supreme Court of England, where a final decision will be reached as to whether or not viagogo will be forced to release the names of individuals who sold tickets through the site for RFU matches.

Viagogo is the premier European secondary ticketing site, selling tickets to concerts and sporting events throughout the United Kingdom and continental Europe. The company was established by the co-founder of StubHub, Eric Baker. In 2006, after a falling out with StubHub's other co-founder, Jeff Fluhr, Baker brought the business model to Europe where he established viagogo.

Under English law, ticket resale is legal for all events within the country, with the exception of Olympic and Paralympic events and football matches. As the law currently stands, the resale of rugby match tickets is not barred within England.

However, the RFU is asserting that the resale of tickets to its matches is a violation of the terms included on the tickets. The RFU argues that the sale of a ticket at a price higher than face value is a violation of the ticket’s license, invalidating the ticket and making the new holder of the ticket a trespasser when he attempts to redeem the ticket.

The RFU, while not making any specific claims against viagogo, is asking for the release of the names of those who sold tickets to the 2010 Autumn Internationals and the 2011 Six Nations matches so that the RFU may take action against them for their sales.

Viagogo is arguing that since the ticket resale is legal under English law, its customers have the right to their privacy.
So far, the English courts ruled in favor of the RFU, holding that viagogo must hand over the names and information of those individuals who sold the tickets, noting that without the intervention of the courts, “RFU has no straightforward or available means of finding out the information it seeks.”

With viagogo receiving the right to appeal to the Supreme Court of England, the decision of the lower court is stayed until the official resolution of the impending Supreme Court hearing. Should viagogo lose its final appeal and be required to divulge its consumer information, there is worry that such a ruling might open the doors for similar litigation against other secondary ticketing sites within the United Kingdom.

Regarding receiving the right to appeal to England’s highest court, viagogo’s United Kingdom Director Edward Parkinson told TicketNews in a statement, “This is an important victory for consumers and for privacy. We remain committed to defending our customers’ rights to resell tickets and to protecting their information.”

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