Fanatics and the NFL have proved to be a powerful merchandising team, but now the pair are facing a lawsuit alleging they illegally interfered with the competition.
The two companies are accused of stifling competition on Amazon’s marketplace by placing major restrictions on other merchandisers selling NFL products.
The antitrust suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday by Casey’s Distributing Inc., naming the league, Fanatics, and each NFL team as defendants.
Casey’s and Ohio consumer Natalie Wheeler Hastings claim the NFL threatened to withhold licensing from distributors who supplied items to Amazon retailers other than Fanatics.
Omaha-based Casey’s distributes NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA, and MLS-branded items and memorabilia to retailers.
Fanatics on the Rise
- The NFL invested $95 million in Fanatics in 2017 at a $4.5 billion valuation.
- Fanatics was valued at $18 billion in August after raising $325 million from Major League Baseball, SoftBank, Roc Nation, Jay-Z, Silver Lake, and others.
Fanatics expanded into trading cards following the August raise, striking deals with the NFLPA, NBA, NBPA, MLB, and MLBPA.