American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League
American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League, 560 U.S. 183 (2010), was a United States Supreme Court case regarding the ability of teams in the National Football League to conspire for purposes of a violation of §1 of the Sherman Act.
|American Needle v. NFL|
|Argued January 13, 2010|
Decided May 24, 2010
|Full case name||American Needle, Inc., Petitioner v. National Football League, et al.|
|Citations||560 U.S. 183 (more)|
|Prior||538 F.3d 736, 88 U.S.P.Q.2d 1358 (7th Cir. 2008)|
|The National Football League's licensing of intellectual property in this case constitutes concerted action that is not categorically beyond Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act's coverage. The judgment of the Seventh Circuit is reversed.|
|Majority||Stevens, joined by unanimous|
|Sherman Antitrust Act|
The alleged conspiracy involved the formation of the National Football League Properties (NFLP), an entity responsible for licensing NFL intellectual property and formed in 1963. Before that date the NFL teams marketed their IP rights individually.
Between 1963 and 2000, the NFLP granted nonexclusive licenses to a various suppliers to sell and manufacture apparel bearing the team insignias. Petitioner, American Needle, Inc., was one of those license holders. In December 2000, the teams voted to authorize the NFLP to grant exclusive licenses from then on. The NFLP granted a 10-year exclusive license to Reebok to manufacture and sell trademarked headwear bearing team insignia of all 32 teams. After that the NFLP declined to renew American Needle's nonexclusive license.
Opinion of the CourtEdit
The Court held that NFL teams are distinct economic actors with separate economic interests that are capable of conspiring under §1 of the Sherman Act.
- Grady, Mark F. Cases and Materials on Antitrust. UCLA Academic Publishing, Los Angeles, CA. 2011, p. 346-48
- He, Yifei American Needle Upon Remand, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2520044