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NFL Faces Antitrust Suit Over Amazon Merchandise Sales

 |  December 28, 2021

The National Football League (NFL) its teams and licensing partner, Fanatics, Inc. were hit with federal antitrust claims in San Francisco, CAby a merchandising business and a consumer claiming they conspired to “strangle the competition” and monopolize NFL product sales through Amazon’s third-party marketplace.

According to Bloomberg Law,  the NFL began threatening to withhold fan gear licensing from distributors who supplied the merchandise to Amazon retailers other than Fanatics after investing about $95 million in Fanatics in 2017.

The lawsuit read, “Fanatics recognized the problem that robust competition on Amazon posed to it … Distributors were forced to abandon business relationships with smaller retailers, but Fanatics allegedly told them it would mitigate the loss by snapping up more of the distributor’s product itself.”

The lawsuits were filed by Casey’s Distributing, an online retailer of fan-licensed products and Ohio consumer Natalie Wheeler Hastings. Omaha-based Casey’s distributes NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA, and MLS-branded products and memorabilia to retailers.