SCOTUS Sacks NFL’s Claims of Antitrust Immunity

May 24, 2010 -

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled against the Nation Football League (NFL) in terms of specific antitrust language, which emerged from a lawsuit brought against the sports entity by apparel manufacturer American Needle.

American Needle had charged that the NFL’s exclusive apparel agreement with Reebok limited competition, violated the Sherman Act and led to higher prices for consumers. American Needle further charged that an agreement between NFL Properties (NFLP) and Reebok did not allow the company to negotiate apparel agreements with individual teams.

In its decision (PDF), authored by retiring Justice Stevens, SCOTUS unanimously reversed a lower court’s ruling, and, according to SCOTUS Blog, “cleared the way Monday for trial of a lawsuit against the joint marketing of the right to use the teams’ logos and trademarks on consumer goods.”

The decision hinged around Section 1 of the Sherman Act, which dictates, “Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal.”

In the decision, Stevens wrote “We conclude that the NFL’s licensing activities constitute concerted action that is not categorically beyond the coverage of §1 [Section 1].”

Between 1963 and 2000, NFLP granted nonexclusive licenses to a “number of vendors,” including American Needle. December of 2000 saw NFL Properties formed and a 10-year exclusive headwear deal for all 32 teams granted to Reebok. American Needle’s license was not renewed.

While the NFL had argued that “by forming NFLP, they have formed a single entity, akin to a merger, and market their NFL brands through a single outlet,” Stevens wrote, “An ongoing §1 violation cannot evade §1 scrutiny simply by giving the ongoing violation a name and label.”

A few more choice tidbits:

Although NFL teams have common interests such as promoting the NFL brand, they are still separate, profit-maximizing entities, and their interests in licensing team trademarks are not necessarily aligned.

It may be, as respondents argue, that NFLP “has served as the ‘single driver’’ of the teams’ “promotional vehicle,” “‘pursu[ing] the common interests of the whole.’” But illegal restraints often are in the common interests of the parties to the restraint, at the expense of those who are not parties.
 

As the SCOTUS Blog further noted, “The Court also did not decide whether the NFL did in fact act illegally in this specific marketing effort.”

If, in a forthcoming trial, it is ruled that the NFL did act illegally, LawsofPlay (earlier this year) outlined a scenario of what such a ruling could mean for the videogame world:

While this could lead to more competition in the sports gaming markets, it could also lead to really wonky arrangements–imagine EA releasing an NFL game with 20 NFL teams and a dozen or so fantasy teams to round out the roster while 2K releases a game with the 12 NFL teams missing from EA’s game and a handful of its own fantasy teams.


Thanks BearDogg-X!!


Comments

Re: SCOTUS Sacks NFL’s Claims of Antitrust Immunity

The NFL never had anti trust immunity I don't think.

The only two I can think of are Majore League Baseball, and the insurance industry, which was hopefully yanked, and I won't cry for MLB fi theirs is yanked.

Re: SCOTUS Sacks NFL’s Claims of Antitrust Immunity

I am with LawsofPlay here. It would be great if individual teams could market themselves to any company, I don't think it will translate as well for games.

Sure a single team could allow for more than one company to make a game using their logo and players, but who really wants to play Vikings Football. People want to play the whole roster of teams.

In the end, this might work out well for merchandise like shirts, hats, coats, bobble-heads etc, but not do much for games.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: SCOTUS Sacks NFL’s Claims of Antitrust Immunity

I don't think it'll work out too well for merchandising, either, since, as I understand it, the team owners wanted a single entity to make those decisions.  Now, they're being told that was illegal, forcing every team to do their own merchandising.

---

With the first link, the chain is forged.

--- With the first link, the chain is forged.
 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
MattsworknameAndrew and EZK help me pull back a bit , still working on it05/22/2015 - 7:06am
ConsterI think IP is the only person here who doesn't think IP needs to dial it back several levels.05/22/2015 - 6:14am
Mattsworknamehttp://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/05/22/fec-backs-off-flirtation-with-regulating-internet/05/22/2015 - 1:34am
MattsworknameWell, on another subject, Saw this, and while I know it's fox news, thuoght I should share it05/22/2015 - 1:34am
MechaCrashYeah, even I think IP needs to dial it back.05/22/2015 - 12:35am
Mattsworknamesays05/21/2015 - 11:17pm
MattsworknameRE doc, everyone has a tendancy to let emotion get ahead of them, especially in an annoymous forum like the web. We have have those moments. Ip however has nothing but those moments. it's why I stopped responding to him, regardless of what he thinks or05/21/2015 - 11:17pm
DocMelonheadNo offense, but I see your behaviors in the comment sections uncalled for.05/21/2015 - 8:51pm
DocMelonheadHell, I could use both Goth_Skunk and IronPatriot as an example of such behavior between the two.05/21/2015 - 8:43pm
Andrew EisenMock? Ridicule? No, we're talking about serious threats and abuse, not people being cheeky or mean. Big difference.05/21/2015 - 8:42pm
DocMelonheadIn fact I see both mocks and ridicule between both the GamerGate Supporters and GamerGate Critics.05/21/2015 - 8:41pm
DocMelonheadAs for the Harassment, well, this is the internet; people will mock and ridicule whoever they want, whenever they want, at all times.05/21/2015 - 8:40pm
Mattsworknamegoth I think all media news outlets have that disclaimer05/21/2015 - 8:39pm
Andrew EisenThat's an... interesting way to interpret that.05/21/2015 - 8:36pm
Goth_SkunkAnd re BBC vs Rockstar: Ahh. I missed that. Woops!05/21/2015 - 8:33pm
Goth_SkunkAE: The entire disclaimer is a valid reason why I don't take it seriously. Particularly the part where they say "the information contained herein may not be necessarily accurate or current." Because fact-checking, like math, is haaaaaaaaard!05/21/2015 - 8:32pm
MattsworknameI take all media reporting with huge skepticism. the Mary sue Included. that said, there not as bad Jezebel.05/21/2015 - 8:27pm
DocMelonheadYou could say that the Mary Sue only interested in Gender issues in pop culture, and they only see GamerGate as a Hate group that fight for the oppressive status quo.05/21/2015 - 8:22pm
MechaCrashWell, can't blame him for not expanding on it and missing stories here. Sealioning people demanding proof of claims and then calling them liars when they provide it is busy work!05/21/2015 - 8:20pm
Andrew EisenRe: Mary Sue - Uh, why exactly? Re: Rockstar - Yep, we reported that earlier today.05/21/2015 - 8:12pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician