NFL case to be discussed at Indy Law

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A roundtable discussion about a U.S. Supreme Court case involving the issue of antitrust laws as applied to the National Football League will be at the Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis in November.

The question at hand in the case American Needle Inc. v. National Football League, et al., No. 08-661, is whether professional sports leagues should be regarded as single firms or a collection of competitors. The discussion will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Wynne Courtroom at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis. The free event will count for one hour of CLE credit, pending approval.

The plaintiff is an Illinois-based licensee of intellectual property that manufactures and sells hats with team logos. After the NFL granted an exclusive license to Reebok following a competitive bid, the league effectively terminated American Needle's license. The company then sued the NFL, its member football teams, NFL Properties LLC, and Reebok International Ltd. In its claim, American Needle said the NFL was in violation of Section One of the Sherman Act, arguing there was a conspiracy among the teams to restrain trade.

Last August, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division's grant of summary judgment to the defendants. In its opinion, the 7th Circuit found the NFL was a single entity. "Simply put, nothing in Section 1 prohibits the NFL teams from cooperating so the league can compete against other entertainment providers. Indeed, antitrust law encourages cooperation inside a business organization - such as, in this case, a professional sports league - to foster competition between that organization and its competitors. ... Viewed in this light, the NFL teams are best described as a single source of economic power when promoting NFL football through licensing the teams' intellectual property, and we thus cannot say that the district court was wrong to so conclude," wrote Judge Michael S. Kanne.

I.U. Law - Indianapolis Dean Gary Roberts will take the position that the 7th Circuit was correct to treat the NFL as a single entity; professor Max Huffman will take the position that the 7th Circuit erred. Professor Antony Page will moderate. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in December 2009 or January 2010; an opinion can be expected no later than June.


Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  2. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  3. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?

  4. I hope you dont mind but to answer my question. What amendment does this case pretain to?

  5. Research by William J Federer Chief Justice John Marshall commented May 9, 1833, on the pamphlet The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States written by Rev. Jasper Adams, President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina (The Papers of John Marshall, ed. Charles Hobson, Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006, p, 278): "Reverend Sir, I am much indebted to you for the copy of your valuable sermon on the relation of Christianity to civil government preached before the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Charleston, on the 13th of February last. I have read it with great attention and advantage. The documents annexed to the sermon certainly go far in sustaining the proposition which it is your purpose to establish. One great object of the colonial charters was avowedly the propagation of the Christian faith. Means have been employed to accomplish this object, and those means have been used by government..." John Marshall continued: "No person, I believe, questions the importance of religion to the happiness of man even during his existence in this world. It has at all times employed his most serious meditation, and had a decided influence on his conduct. The American population is entirely Christian, and with us, Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it. Legislation on the subject is admitted to require great delicacy, because freedom of conscience and respect for our religion both claim our most serious regard. You have allowed their full influence to both. With very great respect, I am Sir, your Obedt., J. Marshall."