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View Full Version : SCOTUS: NFL is 32 teams, not one entity


Dutchrudder
05-24-2010, 01:48 PM
Didn't see this posted anywhere yet, but it surely is an important issue for NFL fans. In a unanimous decision, they reversed lower court ruling against American Needle.
* Holding: The NFLís team joint licensing of the use of trademarks on clothing and other consumer goods may be challenged under the Sherman Antitrust Actís section 1.


The Supreme Court rejected the National Football League's request for broad antitrust law protection Monday, saying that it must be considered 32 separate teams -- not one big business -- when selling branded items like jerseys and caps.

"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," said the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for a unanimous court.

The high court reversed a lower court ruling throwing out an antitrust suit brought against the league by one of its former hat makers, who was upset that it lost its contract for making official NFL hats to Reebok International Ltd.

American Needle, Inc. sued, claiming the league violated antitrust law because all 32 teams worked together to freeze it out of the NFL-licensed hatmaking business and gave Reebok an exclusive 10-year license.

The company lost and appealed to the Supreme Court but the NFL did as well, hoping to get broader protection from antitrust lawsuits.

American Needle's antitrust lawsuit now heads back to the lower court. The NFL said in a statement released after the ruling Monday that it was confident it would ultimately be victorious.


Linky (http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=5214509)

PDF of Court Opinion (http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-661.pdf)

Thorn
05-24-2010, 02:50 PM
I wonder what actual changes this might bring, if any? The NFL owners are not always on the same page with each other, and now they have more freedom for selling their gear and other collectables?

It will be interesting to see how this works itself out.

Dan B.
05-25-2010, 11:36 PM
I wonder what actual changes this might bring, if any? The NFL owners are not always on the same page with each other, and now they have more freedom for selling their gear and other collectables?

It will be interesting to see how this works itself out.

I think the worst case scenario would be if this let NFL teams negotiate individual TV contracts. You know Jerry is looking at the YES network and thinking about what he could be making....

Kulluminatii
05-26-2010, 03:39 AM
This is great news! Wouldn't this allow NFL teams to sell licensing rights to whoever they choose, like when it comes to games? If so, this is great news! 2k sports could possibly license all 32 teams separately and while they won't be able to use the NFL, they would still have all the NFL teams.

WWJD
05-26-2010, 09:01 AM
I'm pretty sure Jerry gets all the merchandising monies from sales of the Cowboys gear. He broke away from the NFL on this a long time ago I think.

Dutchrudder
05-26-2010, 09:34 AM
This is great news! Wouldn't this allow NFL teams to sell licensing rights to whoever they choose, like when it comes to games? If so, this is great news! 2k sports could possibly license all 32 teams separately and while they won't be able to use the NFL, they would still have all the NFL teams.

Well, in this case, it is saying that American Needle needs to pursue further action against the NFL to win their complaint. I would guess that 2K Games would have to do the same and challenge the EA exclusive rights on NFL games to get that going. So it might take a while before we see another NFL 2K game, but hopefully we will.

infantrycak
05-26-2010, 09:36 AM
I'm pretty sure Jerry gets all the merchandising monies from sales of the Cowboys gear. He broke away from the NFL on this a long time ago I think.

It is only on certain things. All jersey sales for instance are shared by the league. I think that extends to any merchandise with the NFL logo on it. There are other deals which can be made by each team like Jerry requiring everyone to wear Nikes and getting a check direct to the Cowboys for that.