StubHub! has begun notifying 13,000 of its customers/members that their names and contact information were released to the New England Patriots as part of a settlement with the team from a lawsuit filed last year.
The Patriots had sought to punish season ticket holders or others who were reselling tickets on the website instead of using the Patriots’ authorized ticket exchange.
In his decision, Superior Court Judge Allan van Gestel wrote: “This court concludes that the Patriots, having legitimate interests in knowing the identity of the purchasers of Patriots’ tickets from the Patriots who then re-sell the same through StubHub!, should not be prohibited from using the information gained for reasons beyond the mere prosecution of this litigation. Indeed, one of the legitimate reasons for seeking the present information directly relates to the further prosecution of this case.”
In an email that went out to customers/members yesterday, Oct. 18, StubHub! President Chris Tsakalakis wrote the following:
“As a valued StubHub customer, we want to let you know about a court ruling that may impact you.
In November 2006, prior to StubHub’s acquisition by eBay Inc., the New England Patriots filed a lawsuit against StubHub over the rights of individuals to resell their Patriots tickets on StubHub.com. As part of the lawsuit, we were ordered by the courts to surrender the contact information of every person who used StubHub.com to sell, attempt to sell, buy, or attempt to buy a ticket to a Patriots home game from November 2002 to January 2007.
We take the privacy of our customers very seriously, so we made every effort to appeal this ruling. Unfortunately, our appeals were not successful and we must now comply with the court’s order. To do so, we were required to give the Patriots organization your contact information, including your name, address, and phone number.”
Van Gestel wrote: “The Patriots have said that they intend to use the identities of the purchasers and sellers not only for this case, but also for its own other allegedly legitimate uses, such as canceling season tickets of ‘violators’ or reporting to authorities those customers that they deem to be in violation of the Massachusetts antiscalping law,
Neither StubHub! nor the Patriots would comment, but the move could have a chilling effect on the industry if more teams decide to take similar action and succeed. Massachusetts currently does not allow the resale of tickets for more than $2 above face value, but legislators in the state are close to approving a new law allowing unrestricted ticket reselling, that would not allow the Patriots or other teams to penalize fans who use websites of their choosing to resell tickets.
Tom Patania, president of the National Association of Ticket Brokers said that the group has notified its members on the decision, but he did not want to comment directly on the case.
“But, do I think it’s right?” he asked about the Patriots’ stance. “No.” Patania’s company, Select-A-Ticket was not among the 13,000 names, he said.