Calling AEG's anti-trust claims 'baseless,' lawyers for Ozzy Osbourne fight back in what is known as the LA and London 'venue wars.'
The long-running legal dispute between aging rocker Ozzy Osbourne and Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the sporting and music entertainment company, has reached new heights over AEG’s block-booking policy. Lawyers for Mr Osbourne have called the AEG’s motion to dismiss anti-trust claims ‘baseless on the facts and the law alike,’ according to legal documents obtained by Variety, the entertainment industry newspaper.
Attorneys for AEG filed a motion to dismiss Osbourne’s anti-trust lawsuit challenging the promoter’s block-booking policy, which requires artists playing the London’s O2 Arena to also play Staples Center in Los Angeles. AEG claims this is in response to a similar policy around the Forum and Madison Square Garden in New York. AEG lawyer Paul Salvaty said Osbourne doesn’t have legal standing to sue the company over the Staples Center commitment letter at the center of this latest round of the battle because the singer did not sign the agreement, which Salvaty claims is between AEG and rival promoter Live Nation. The commitment letter was subsequently published and criticised by Mr Osbourne’s wife and longtime manager, Sharon.
In a rebutting to the motion to dismiss, a lawyer for Mr Osbourne Dan Wall wrote “factually, AEG misrepresents its own practices with respect to the tying requirement it enforces. The formal venue hire agreement for the O2 referenced in the Staples Center Commitment unambiguously requires the promoter to ensure that the artist plays Staples when in Los Angeles.” He stated no matter who signs the document, the block-booking policy binds the artist to perform. Mr Wall wrote, “Ozzy is threatened with a causal antitrust injury because he was forced to agree to the Staples Center Commitment to book the O2,” which means he says is ‘no longer free to book the Los Angeles venue of his choice.’ The rebuttal also reasserts the anti-competitive claims regarding AEG’s block-booking policy of the O2 in London, which has no other venue of comparable size. Mr Wall claimed ‘the point of this lawsuit is that AEG has market power in London, which it uses ‘to distort freedom of trade and competition’ in Los Angeles.’