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Collectible Wars Escalating As Fanatics Files Countersuit Against Panini

  • New legal filing focuses in part on alleged complacency by Panini toward collectors.
  • Panini predictably rejects arguments from bitter rival.
Fanatics is buying auction marketplace PWCC.
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Fanatics has fired back against Panini in their escalating legal battle, filing a countersuit alleging its rival engaged in unfair competitive practices and interfered with its historic entry into the sports collectibles business.

Four days after Panini filed its lawsuit in Florida, Fanatics responded formally with a countermeasure filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which claims Panini grew lazy and complacent in servicing collectors, then sought to improperly block Fanatics’ move into the space.

“Having lost a number of major licenses, Panini’s Italian owners embarked on a protracted, unlawful, and deceitful campaign of unfair trade practices, strong-arm tactics, and tortious misconduct to hamper Fanatics Collectibles’ nascent business,” the lawsuit reads.

The suit also claims Panini attempted to extract “extortionate amounts” of money to yield its current league and union licenses early.

Fanatics made a sensational swoop on the industry over the past two years, buying Topps and striking exclusive, long-term licenses with the NBA, MLB, NFL, and their players unions, thereby disrupting an industry that had enjoyed decades of relative stability.

The company’s 101-page complaint included an extended array of social media posts detailing what it sees as broad collector unhappiness with Panini’s products and services.

“If Panini had been as unsuccessful as Fanatics pretends, Fanatics wouldn’t have had to use decades-long, exclusive-dealing arrangements to lock it out of the market, or improperly cut off Panini’s supply, interfere with Panini’s production facilities, and raid its employees,” Panini attorney David Boies said.

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