Supreme Court Rejects Single Entity Treatment for the National Football League's Licensing Activities


On May 24, 2010, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Stevens, the Supreme Court of the United States reversed the Seventh Circuit and held that because the 32 teams of the NFL are independent centers of decision-making and could potentially compete with each other for the licensing of their separate intellectual property, “the NFL’s licensing activities constitute concerted action that is not categorically beyond the coverage of [Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1].” See American Needle, Inc. v. N.F.L., No. 08-661, slip. op. at 1, 12, 560 U. S. ____ (2010). Thus, the Court remanded the case for further proceedings to determine whether the alleged concerted action is an “unreasonable restraint of trade” under the Rule of Reason. Id. at 1, 20.

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