Ticketmaster Continues Suit Against Prestige, Says Company Used Bots To Score ‘Hamilton’ Tickets

A U.S. District Court has rejected Prestige Entertainment’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against it by Ticketmaster for allegedly using bots to purchase large volumes of hot tickets like “Hamilton” and the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao boxing match.

The ruling was made by U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright in California May 29, with the decision that the facts supported a legitimate claim and that the court had jurisdiction.

The suit was originally filed against Prestige Entertainment Inc.; Prestige Entertainment West, Inc.; Renaissance Ventures LLC; and individuals Nicholas Lombardi, Steven K. Lichtman and 10 unnamed “Does” Oct. 2, alleging copyright infringement, violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, fraud, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, violation of Ticketmaster’s Terms of Use and many other counts.

Prestige filed a motion to dismiss seven of Ticketmaster’s 10 claims, and the court did grant dismissal of some of those claims with leave to amend, but after TM filed an amended complaint, Prestige moved to dismiss it entirely.

While the judge was not making a decision in terms of Prestige’s guilt, it was decided, according to necessary standards, that the claim was plausible to the extent that it would “not [be] unfair to require the opposing party to be subjected to the expense of discovery and continued litigation.”

In his discussion of the decision, the judge made the observation that Prestige does not count as “ordinary Internet users,” and are not innocuous, but make their evasion of Ticketmaster’s policies a foundational element of their business.

The initial suit claimed that Prestige and Renaissance – aided by Lombardi and Lichtman and numerous Does – evaded CAPTCHA and “splunk” security features and used bots to procure tens of thousands of tickets to “Hamilton” – often 30 to 40 percent of available inventory. It goes on to say that the companies got “a majority of the tickets available through Ticketmaster” to Mayweather v. Pacquiao.

A source wishing to remain anonymous told Pollstar that large amounts of inventory acquired through Prestige and Renaissance often end up moving on StubHub, meaning the platform could be pushing bot-acquired tickets. A representative from StubHub told Pollstar there was no official relationship between the company and Prestige, but that its user agreement prohibited StubHub from speaking on who buys and sells tickets on the site.

Prestige agreed to pay a settlement of $3.35 million after an investigation by then New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman into the state’s problems with ticket bots. At the time that settlement was announced, Schneiderman’s office said Prestige used two different bots and thousands of Ticketmaster and credit card accounts to purchase New York concert tickets, including 1,012 tickets to a 2014 U2 concert at New York’s

Schneiderman has since stepped down from his position due to allegations of assault.

Ticketmaster sent the following statement to Pollstar: “We’re very happy with the court’s ruling because it means that the full extent of these unfair practices will have an opportunity to be fully heard by the court and we expect to prevail on all of our claims. While Ticketmaster continues to lead the fight against ticket bots to ensure fans have fair access to tickets, holding those who cheat the ticket buying process accountable is critical to protect consumers.  This case is another example of why stronger laws banning the use of BOTS and greater enforcement of the existing laws, like the Federal BOTS Act, are needed.”

Pollstar reached out to Prestige entertainment for comment but hadn’t heard back at press time.