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NFL case to be discussed at Indy Law

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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.

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  1. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

  3. I always wondered why high fence deer hunting was frowned upon? I guess you need to keep the population steady. If you don't, no one can enjoy hunting! Thanks for the post! Fence

  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

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