December 4, 2023

Fanatics filed a countersuit towards Panini America within the Southern District of New York on Monday after the latter accused the sports activities retail and collectibles large of getting a monopoly within the buying and selling card trade.

Panini America alleged final week in a lawsuit filed in Florida that Fanatics participated in “anticompetitive” habits and signed long-term licensing offers with the NFL, MLB and NBA, in addition to every of the foremost sports activities leagues’ gamers’ unions. Fanatics acquired Topps Firm in 2022.

Panini has an unique license with the NBA via September 2025 and the NFL via early 2026.

Panini accused Fanatics of “raiding” its staff and giving “false, derogatory statements” concerning the firm.


Fanatics filed a countersuit towards Panini America on Monday. (Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Photos/LightRocket by way of Getty Photos / Getty Photos)

On Monday, Fanatics fired again. The corporate stated in its lawsuit that Panini’s house owners “launched into a protracted, illegal, and deceitful marketing campaign of unfair commerce practices, strong-arm ways, and tortious misconduct to hamper Fanatics Collectibles’ nascent enterprise, within the hopes that it may power Fanatics Collectibles to pay an extortionate quantity for Panini to terminate its licenses early, although early termination would inure to the advantage of collectors and licensing companions—and Panini—alike.”

Fanatics accused Panini of making an attempt to falsify earnings projections hoping to “bait” the corporate into “persevering with sham talks of terminating Panini’s licenses, impeding Fanatics Collectibles’ enterprise plans to work with gamers’ associations and particular person athletes to develop the sports activities and leisure collectible playing cards class.”

Of those that left Panini with out non-compete clauses, Fanatics stated Panini filed lawsuits towards them and “threatened” others who determined to observe.

The lawsuit talked about a 2022 negotiating interval when Fanatics and Panini agreed in precept to terminate a few of Panini’s licenses early. Fanatics agreed to pay the early termination price based mostly on Panini’s income projections. 


“Over the course of the subsequent yr, nonetheless, Panini dragged out the early termination negotiations in dangerous religion by slow-walking negotiations for a number of months and in the end making an attempt to cross off knowingly inflated earnings projections that translated to an unreasonably excessive early termination price,” the lawsuit stated.

Fanatics accused Panini of utilizing unfair ways, which pressured them to spend thousands and thousands of {dollars} and lose out on a number of different alternatives. 

A supply conversant in the matter advised Fox Enterprise that Panini threatened the corporate with the antitrust lawsuit for months to be able to power them to make a nasty deal. The supply stated the lawsuit got here after Fanatics wouldn’t do the deal.

Panini logo in 2022

Element view of the Panini seen on the Tremendous Bowl Expertise on Feb. 8, 2022, on the Los Angeles Conference Heart in Los Angeles. (Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire by way of Getty Photos / Getty Photos)

“Panini’s technique is an admission of its ineptitude: fairly than elevating the collector expertise, granting licensors entry to downstream alternatives, or enhancing the broader trade, Panini is making an attempt to undermine its competitor via unfair ways in order that it might proceed to deal with its American subsidiary as an ATM serving its personal house owners in Italy. However Fanatics Collectibles is not going to be bullied,” the lawsuit stated. 

“Fanatics Collectibles has nothing to concern from the baseless litigation that Panini has introduced, as Fanatics Collectibles has executed nothing aside from outcompete Panini by convincing athletes, gamers’ associations, and leagues that Fanatics Collectibles will maximize the worth of their mental property sooner or later. That known as competitors—and it’s what the antitrust legal guidelines promote.”

Fanatics additionally cited tweets from Panini shoppers who’ve been upset with the product.

Panini America didn’t instantly reply to Fox Enterprise’ request for remark.

Their legal professionals launched a press release to the Motion Community.

“Fanatics 101 web page press launch masquerading as a lawsuit is a disparate (sic) try to keep away from coping with its critical antitrust legal responsibility as set out in litigation filed towards it final week,” Panini America stated via its legal professionals to the Motion Community.

“Fanatics try to some how painting it as a sufferer is absurd on the information and irrelevant as a matter of regulation.

“Fanatics assaults on Panini are flatly inconsistent with undisputed information, together with Panini’s undisputed document of innovation, customer support, and monetary success. If Panini had been as unsuccessful as Fanatics pretends, Fanatics wouldn’t have had to make use of many years lengthy unique dealing preparations to lock it out of the market, or improperly lower off Panini’s provide, intervene with Panini’s manufacturing amenities, and raid its staff.”


Fanatics stated it’s “in search of damages and “different acceptable reduction on this discussion board, pursuant to a governing forum-selection clause, to be able to treatment Panini’s unfair competitors, tortious interference with enterprise relations, and breach of the obligation to barter in good religion.”