Maker Of Toy With Internet Link|Accused Of Antitrust Tying Arrangements

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – An antitrust class action accuses Ganz USA of abusing its market power in “Webkinz” toys, which come with codes that let kids play online games featuring their toy. The named plaintiff says Ganz refuses to sell the toys to retailers unless they buy at least $1,000 of other Ganz products that have nothing to do with the Webinkz toys that the kids, and the retailers, want.

     “Webkinz is a toy and an online game at the same time,” the federal complaint states. A Webkinz is a stuffed animal that costs $10 to $15 and “comes with a code that allows the user to unlock a Web site that offers online games and other activities.”
     The complaint continues: “The main attraction of the Webkinz Web site is the games. Once on the Webkinz site, the user takes care of a virtual pet by earning points from playing games. The user cashes in their points to buy food, houses, and other items for their virtual pet.”
     Named plaintiff Nuts for Candy says Ganz illegally forces retailers who want to sell Webkinz to buy at least $1,000 of stuff from its “core line,” which “consists of Ganz products unrelated to Webkinz, including lip gloss, magnets, and stuffed and rubber animals.”
     Nuts For Candy, a sole proprietorship in Burlingame, says it ordered the $1,000+ in non-Webkinz products so it could buy the Webkinz, or Webkinzes. It demands treble damages, an injunction and costs. It is represented by Steven Williams with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy of Burlingame.

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