Lawyer On Suing Viagogo In Austria: Legal Victory Very Much Possible

– Viagogo

At the beginning of this year, two comedians from Germany and Austria sued the viagogo AG for selling overpriced tickets to their shows. Pollstar asked their lawyer about the chances of success.

When comedians Monika Gruber and Viktor Gernot went on tour together in 2016/2017, tickets reportedly ended up on Viagogo with huge mark-ups. The same is true for Gruber’s current solo tour. Both acts, together with their promoter Stage Veranstaltungsagentur, therefore decided to sue Viagogo AG.

The amount in dispute is €35,000 ($43,000), and a second lawsuit for the same amount has been filed on behalf of the Austrian consumer protection agency WSV. Prof. Johannes Hintermayr, lawyer at Prof. Hintermayr & Parnter, handles both cases, which he filed at the regional court of Linz in Austria.

The WSV suit cites breach of law, violation of market conventions and/or misleading business practices in the complaint. The comedians’ suit cites the encroachment of Gruber’s and Gernot’s right of publicity and naming rights, claiming Viagogo was exploiting both artists’ fame in order to sell tickets without the authorization of the artists.

Both suits raise concerns with Viagogo’s way of conducting business. Among other things, they highlight the fact that Stage has banned the resale of tickets in its terms. Hintermayr also points to the site’s lack of transparency, which misled customers into believing they bought from a primary source and did not make it obvious that they might be paying above face value. What is more, Viagogo’s legal notice on its website lacked information.

It is hard to say, whether Viagogo is feeling the pressure. The company maintains a notoriously low profile, hiding away in the tax haven of Switzerland. In 2017, the company got invited to a parliamentary hearing on secondary ticketing in the UK, but didn’t show up.

So far, Viagogo has been successfully avoiding major legal consequences, although it is currently grappling with a couple of lawsuits. Hintermayr suggested this was down to the fact that people haven’t been finding the right approach.

Up until now, that is. Hintermayr believes the odds for a legal victory are very much in his favor. Viagogo refused the initial statement of claim he sent the company, but this was to be expected, simply because it was a legal option. While this first letter was sent in an informal manner, the next one will be sent our formally. Since Viagogo is based in Geneva, where the administrative language is French, the statement of claim has to first be translated.

Hintermayr said a success in court could become a precedential case. And since both court proceedings have already been filed, all Viagogo could do now was to deny the charges.

Viagogo is currently dealing with several lawsuits brought against the company in early 2017. Later that year, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) raided the London offices of StubHub and Viagogo. In early 2018,  soccer association FIFA obtained a preliminary injunction against the company prohibiting it from selling tickets for the upcoming World Cup in summer.

Pollstar has reached out to Viagogo for comment.