Antitrust Alert - NFL Licensing Arm Subject to Antitrust Laws as a “Contract, Combination … or Conspiracy”

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On May 24, in American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League, the Supreme Court unanimously held that NFL Properties (“NFLP”) must defend its licensing decisions under Section 1 of the Sherman Act. NFLP was incorporated by the teams of the National Football League in 1963 to develop, license, and market their intellectual property. The lower courts had held that NFLP was a single entity incapable of conspiring and therefore not subject to Section 1. At issue was the decision by NFLP to grant an exclusive license for caps bearing the NFL team insignias. Plaintiff American Needle had previously been one of a number of companies with non-exclusive licenses.

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Fenwick & West LLP on:

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