Business lawsuit could change trading card industry

Nashville, TN – In a stunning escalation of tensions, the trading card industry has been rocked by an intense legal battle between Panini and Fanatics, marking the most significant dispute the industry has witnessed in over forty years [1]. 

Trading card lawsuit has big implications for industry

The clash began when Panini, a prominent player in the trading card sector, filed a business lawsuit against Fanatics, alleging antitrust violations. However, the conflict took a dramatic turn when Fanatics counter-sued, accusing Panini of unfair competition and tortious interference.

At the heart of Panini’s claim was the contention that Fanatics, which recently acquired Topps and established exclusive partnerships with various sports leagues and players’ associations, was rapidly transforming into an unlawful monopoly. Panini argued that Fanatics’ actions were monopolistic and harmful to fair competition within the market.

Fanatics, however, responded with a compelling counterargument. The company contended that it had earned its foothold in the industry because licensors and other stakeholders had willingly chosen to collaborate with Fanatics due to Panini’s purported incompetence. Fanatics framed itself as a dynamic and innovative player, offering expanded economic opportunities for licensors’ intellectual property. The company highlighted that licensors, composed of experienced and knowledgeable professionals, had made a calculated decision to license their intellectual property exclusively to Fanatics Collectibles. Fanatics maintained that this was a reflection of healthy competition and a demonstration of licensors’ freedom to make licensing decisions based on their business interests.

Fanatics Collectibles rapidly secured critical licenses with major sports leagues and players’ associations, including the NFL, NFLPA, MLB, MLBPA, NBA, and NBPA. The company inked lucrative deals, such as an exclusive agreement with the NBA beginning in 2026 and a 20-year deal with the NFLPA, set to commence the same year. This meant that exclusive licensing rights previously held by Panini, such as those with the NFL and NBA, were poised to transition to Fanatics in the near future.

The legal saga also revealed that behind-the-scenes negotiations took place between Panini and Fanatics regarding the earlier transfer of licensing rights. The lawsuit from Fanatics claimed that Panini’s CEO, Mark Warsop, provided falsified figures to secure a larger termination fee from Fanatics. The lawsuit alleged that Warsop himself admitted to these actions.

In its response, Fanatics laid bare Panini’s alleged shortcomings, particularly in the realm of customer service. Fanatics cited a staggering 95% abandonment rate for Panini’s customer service and pointed out that the Better Business Bureau gave Panini a failing grade of “F.” Fanatics contended that Panini’s poor customer service, particularly concerning redemption cards, had adversely affected collectors and undermined the industry’s reputation.

While Panini’s legal representation staunchly defended the company’s record of innovation, customer service, and financial success, Fanatics maintained its position that Panini’s inadequacies warranted its competitors’ rise. Fanatics also emphasized the need for improved customer service in the industry and cited the prolonged wait times for redemption cards as a prime example of Panini’s alleged failures.

As the legal clash between these trading card giants unfolds, the outcome will likely have far-reaching implications for the industry’s landscape, the licensing dynamics of intellectual property, and the broader conversation around competition and monopolistic practices. The conflict not only shines a spotlight on the intricacies of antitrust and unfair competition claims but also underscores the evolving power dynamics within the trading card market.

What antitrust laws apply to businesses in Tennessee?

Anti-trust laws play a crucial role in maintaining fair competition, preventing monopolies, and ensuring consumer protection in business practices. In the state of Tennessee, businesses are subject to both federal and state anti-trust laws that aim to foster a competitive marketplace and prevent anticompetitive behavior.

At the federal level, the primary legislation governing anti-trust matters is the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. This law prohibits business practices that restrict trade, stifle competition, or lead to monopolization. It encompasses actions such as price-fixing, bid-rigging, and market allocation, all of which are detrimental to healthy competition. The Sherman Act applies to businesses across all states, including Tennessee, and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In addition to federal laws, Tennessee also has its own state laws that address anti-trust concerns. The Tennessee Antitrust Act is a notable piece of state legislation that complements federal laws. It is designed to prevent anti-competitive practices and monopolies within the state. The Tennessee Attorney General’s office oversees the enforcement of state anti-trust laws and investigates potential violations.

Businesses in Tennessee must adhere to these anti-trust laws to ensure fair competition, consumer choice, and economic stability. Engaging in practices that restrain trade or hinder competition can lead to severe legal consequences, including civil and criminal penalties, fines, and legal actions. Businesses must avoid activities like price-fixing, bid manipulation, and agreements that limit market access for competitors.

It’s important for businesses operating in Tennessee to understand the anti-trust laws that apply at both the federal and state levels. Compliance with these laws not only helps maintain a level playing field in the marketplace but also safeguards businesses from legal entanglements that could harm their reputation and financial well-being.

In conclusion, anti-trust laws in Tennessee comprise both federal statutes like the Sherman Antitrust Act and state legislation such as the Tennessee Antitrust Act. These laws collectively aim to promote healthy competition, prevent monopolistic behavior, and protect consumers. Businesses in Tennessee are required to operate within the bounds of these laws to ensure fairness, competition, and a thriving economic environment.

Business attorneys are available in Nashville

The Law Office of George R. Fusner is a firm that handles various business matters for local clients in the Nashville area. 

USAttorneys.com is a service that works with people who need to find lawyers. Those who need assistance with a referral can call 800-672-3103

Firm contact info:

The Law Office of George R. Fusner

7104 Peach Court, Brentwood TN 37027





  1. https://www.actionnetwork.com/general/fanatics-countersues-panini-amid-most-contentious-trading-card-industry-battle-in-4-decades
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