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.
Neo_DrKefkaI'm disheartened we have a group of people in Gamergate such as The Ralph Retort that is using Gamergate to prop themselves up but they are acting just like those they are fighting against. Only gaming site coming out of gamergate that worthy is TechRaptr10/21/2014 - 11:17am
Andrew EisenNot I. I'm not interested in desktop tchotchkes. Don't know what they do in Captain Toad (a game I'll actually be picking up) but I'm not impressed by what they do in Smash Bros.10/21/2014 - 11:10am
quiknkoldso in a change of subject to something much lighter, who here is getting the Amiibos? I have 4 preordered.10/21/2014 - 7:02am
TechnogeekFor a change of pace, here's a story about death threats aimed at games industry employees via Twitter that has nothing whatsoever to do with Gamergate: http://kotaku.com/indie-dev-threatens-gabe-newell-has-game-removed-from-164867886910/21/2014 - 4:38am
MechaCrashThey aren't being held accountable because *this is what GamerGate is really about.* Hatred and harassment under a thin veneer of concern for ethics; it's a rotten movement right down to the core. Related: http://tinyurl.com/o5mamgn10/21/2014 - 1:53am
james_fudgeodd why would they delete pro vita comments?10/21/2014 - 12:50am
Neo_DrKefkaI am a little disturbed that members of #GamerGate are supporting and not holding its same members accountable when they say remarks that are unacceptable!10/20/2014 - 11:39pm
Neo_DrKefkaSome #GamerGate people are defending @kingofpol many are however lashing out at him but if we held Sam Biddle accountable and Gawker so must we hold @kingofpol and #GamerGate10/20/2014 - 11:30pm
Neo_DrKefkaA big name in the Gamergate movement Kingofpol uses a offensive term about autistic people and in turn the entire GamerGate community lashes out at him. We do not need false leaders who think they can say anything https://twitter.com/Kingofpol10/20/2014 - 11:07pm
Papa MidnightMP, honestly, I'm struggling to make heads or tales of the events being outlined in that reddit thread. I've never heard of Siliconera before, either.10/20/2014 - 10:48pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.reddit.com/r/vita/comments/2jbn6u/former_siliconera_moderator_leaks_screenshots_of/ Siliconera mods accused of deleting user comments that were pro Vita.10/20/2014 - 9:23pm
quiknkoldhttp://www.diamondbackonline.com/opinion/article_3fbc52ec-57eb-11e4-ba91-0017a43b2370.html10/20/2014 - 9:16pm
Neo_DrKefkaId love to see people come 2gether whether your 4 or against gamergate to gather 2gether and support an anti bullying charity and I would love to see a pro and anti gamegate debate on a neutral platform that promotes discussion and solutions10/20/2014 - 8:33pm
Neo_DrKefkaWhen someone was seriously hurt by a violent altercation. They have a prospective that people who have not had this experience lack. Bullying is a serious issue10/20/2014 - 8:30pm
Papa MidnightStraw Man to the fullest, but it gets the point across.10/20/2014 - 8:26pm
Papa Midnighthttp://i.imgur.com/dw0YPon.png10/20/2014 - 8:25pm
quiknkoldby doing something, Charitable Donations is an example.10/20/2014 - 8:06pm
quiknkoldAndrew : I dont accept any worded apology unless I can look the person in the eye when they say it. For me, he'd either have to make a video so I could read his bodylanguage, or actually do something. actions speak louder than words.10/20/2014 - 8:04pm
quiknkoldwell if they are looking for social pollution, Twitter is a great breeding ground for it. Its a breeding ground for deviance.10/20/2014 - 8:03pm
Andrew Eisenquiknkold - He had three tweets worth of apology the following day.10/20/2014 - 8:00pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician