SF Judge Nixes Antitrust Claim Over Webkinz Toys

     
     (CN) – Ganz USA convinced a federal judge in San Francisco to dismiss the antitrust claims in a class action accusing the company of forcing retailers to buy at least $1,000 in unrelated Ganz products in order to buy its popular Webkinz plush toys.




     Class members claimed that Ganz illegally tied its Webkinz toys to other “core-line” products, forcing them to buy those products through Ganz instead of other producers.
     Each Webkinz toy is linked to an interactive Web site, called Webkinz World, that allows users to take care of a virtual pet by earning points through online games.
     U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in San Francisco said the plaintiffs needed to show how the allegedly tied products reduced consumer choice.
     “However, the complaint does not allege that consumers are unable to purchase the competing manufacturers’ products from other retailers,” White wrote.
     The judge also tossed an antitrust injury claim, saying the alleged inability to stock store shelves with competing products “does not amount to recognizable harm to competition.”
     “Plaintiffs do not allege that Ganz’s conduct has in any way affected the price of the tied products or even the overall price for the bundled goods,” he wrote.
White also granted Ganz’s motions to dismiss state claims for consumer fraud under New York and Illinois law, and unfair competition under California law.

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