In a situation reminiscent of the StubHub vs. New England Patriots case, UK secondary ticket company viagogo has been ordered to turn over names and personal information of resellers of Rugby Football Union (RFU) tickets who sold them for a premium above face value because the league tries to control resale to help keep prices affordable.
The league took a unique approach in their case against viagogo by convincing the judge, Justice Michael Tugendhat, that they considered those who bought tickets for above face value to be trespassers, because those fans allegedly violated certain league rules that disallow the resale of tickets above face value.
Once fans advertised and then resold tickets above face value, those who bought them violated their rules, making them trespassers, the RFU argued.
The RFU allows for the transfer of tickets, but not above face value, and in this case the RFU wants the names of resellers in order to know who it believes allegedly violated its rules. Viagogo argued that furnishing the names of the resellers was a breach of privacy, and it would not provide adequate information on the buyers.
A spokesperson for viagogo did not respond to a message seeking comment.
In addition, viagogo also argued that the RFU could obtain some of this same information from its own database of names and by essentially conducting undercover purchases. Justice Tugendhat deemed such activity to be cost prohibitive. Viagogo also claimed that furnishing the information could harm its business, but Justice Tugendhat said the company did not adequately quantify those claims.
In the Patriots case against StubHub, which was eventually settled, StubHub turned over 13,000 names of people the team believed violated their anti-resale rules by buying and reselling their tickets.
The exact number of names that viagogo is being asked to furnish was not disclosed.
“In any event, a reasonable person holding an RFU ticket (however he has acquired it) should not be surprised or aggrieved that RFU wish to know his identity,” Justice Tugendhat wrote. “The identity of individuals who enter onto premises such as the Stadium may be important to the owners of those premises for a number of obvious reasons, including security. And as RFU point out, Viagogo’s Conditions permit it to communicate the personal data of its customers to partner organisations, presumably for marketing purposes. The customers who Viagogo refers to as ‘innocent’ might be presumed to suppose that RFU was a partner of Viagogo, or that RFU had as much interest in using their names for marketing as Viagogo’s partners.”
Ticket resale has been the subject of much debate in the UK over the past few years as government officials look at whether to regulate the practice, and to what extent.